Choose Not to Give Up on People

Barbara | October 22, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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One More Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

We received a lovely note from someone. She said, “I have not forgotten about you or all the good advice you gave me. Please don’t give up on me…” Those are powerful words: Please don’t give up on me.

Do we give up on people? God doesn’t give up on us. We are a work in progress, just like everyone we meet. God doesn’t look at what a mess we are, throw His hands up in the air, and say, “Well, I give up!”

People are flawed, frustrating, and infuriating. People can be manipulative and judgmental. People can think the world revolves around them and their wants, their needs, and their desires. People can take the joy out of life by their negativity. People can be disrespectful and insincere. People can want us to give more, more, more while they give nothing. People can take us for granted. People don’t have boundaries and infringe on ours. People can drain our energy and leave us limp.

To make matters worse, God ignores our request to change these people or relocate them far, far away from us. In fact, it’s as if God looks beyond their irritating nature to see their worth. I guess God deals with others the same way He deals with us – with compassion, patience, encouragement, and love. Maybe that’s what we should do. God loves these people and so should we. In order to do this, we need to ask God for wisdom, strength, and guidance in how to deal with them.

Consider this… It’s easy to love the lovable, but how we love people who are hard to love reveals a lot about us spiritually. Dealing with difficult people helps us grow spiritually, whether we want to or not. If we’ve learned anything from God, we’ve learned that everyone is redeemable.

Now, there may be times we need to pull back from a relationship with difficult people for our own sanity. Or there may come a time when we are no longer able to work with someone profitably because of a personality conflict or disagreement about how a job should be done. That’s what happened with Paul and Barnabas; so they agreed to go their separate ways. (Acts 15:36-40) However, that doesn’t mean we ever give up on them. Instead, we place them in God’s loving hands and continue to pray for them.

Suggestions for practicing this choice…

Remember, we are all God’s work in progress. (Ephesians 2:10)

Ask God for the ability to see beyond the surface and into a person’s soul. Ask God to help you see what He sees.

We all have problems. Ask God to help you remove the plank from your own eye. (Matthew 7:3-5)

Have you ever thought that you might be the difficult person in someone else’s life? Think about it!

Never underestimate the power of prayer. It can change lives – including yours!

 

 

 

 

 


Choose Not to Be Resentful and Bitter

Barbara | October 15, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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One More Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

Having been born in the foothills of the Ozarks, I know a bit about grudge mentalities. Now don’t get me wrong! I love my roots, but mountain and hill people have a reputation for holding a grudge. Of course, so did the Godfather, but I’m not from Sicily. Grudges can last forever – long after those who felt mistreated are dead and buried. Yet the hatred against one family or another lives on. The Hatfields and McCoys fought so long that no one remembered what the original argument was about. Nothing good comes from holding a grudge. People become bitter and resentful.

When we think we’ve been wronged or treated unfairly, we become resentful. Resentment is defined as bitter indignation. The Bible has nothing good to say about being bitter and resentful. In fact, it says be careful not to let a root of bitterness spring up and cause trouble. (Hebrews 12:15) If it does spring up, we are instructed to put it away. (Ephesians 4:31)

Here’s how resentment and bitterness can start. We get deeply hurt. We feel injured or offended. We justify these feelings. We think we have a right to feel this way. Then the person who did these awful things to us does not react the way we think they should. They don’t apologize. They don’t grovel. They may even ignore us. We say things to ourselves like, “If only they would acknowledge what they did to me, I could let go of this bitterness.” But they don’t acknowledge it. Maybe they don’t even care!

So we decide to turn it over to God. After all, God tells us not to take revenge, because vengeance is His. (Romans 12:19) We’ll leave their punishment in God’s hands. They better watch out because now they are going to get it! But what happens? God doesn’t punish them the way we think He should. They may even prosper. Maybe God won’t punish them at all. We feel like God has really botched this, because we want them to suffer the way they made us suffer.

What are we supposed to do for those no good, lousy rats who wrong us? Well…we are supposed to do the right thing, even when they don’t. God says not to repay evil with evil. (Romans 12:17) We are to pray for our enemies. We are to bless our enemies. (Matthew 5:44) We are to trust God to take care of it – His way. We need to forgive them, even when they don’t ask for forgiveness or acknowledge what they’ve done. We are to let go of bitterness and resentment because no good can come from it. It breeds anger and discontent, which will not enhance our spiritual growth or journey.

Consider this… Resentment and bitterness do not hurt the other guy as much as they hurt us. Nelson Mandela puts it this way: “Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping it will kill your enemies.”

 

Suggestions for practicing this choice…

Ask God to help you let go of bitterness and resentment because they will hinder your spiritual growth. It hardens your heart. We become unreceptive to God’s Word and love. We get stuck in the past, unable to move forward.

We are to forgive our enemies. Forgiveness does not mean letting others continue to hurt us. It just means we surrender our right to get even or retaliate.

When we pray for our enemies or ask God to bless them, we are asking God to do what is best for them. We think “best” means showering someone with health and wealth, but God doesn’t think the way we do. We aren’t asking God to buy them a Mercedes Benz. God knows what they need to be a better person; we do not.

Do what’s right even if the other guy doesn’t. We are told that if our enemies hunger or thirst, then give them food and water. (Romans 12:17-21) Overcome evil with good.

Remember, no matter how long we nurse a grudge, it will only get bitter, not better.

 

 

 


Choose Not to Add to Someone’s Misery

Barbara | October 8, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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One More Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

We all know the story of Job in the Bible. He was a wealthy, loyal servant of God who was afflicted by Satan and lost everything he had. He was miserable. So his friends came to help. However, Job’s friends were not helpful. In fact, they added to Job’s misery. If we aren’t careful, we can add to a person’s misery, all the while thinking we are being helpful.

What Job needed was comfort and encouragement. Instead he got judgment and condemnation. They assumed Job was being punished for some sin he had committed or evil he’d done. They reasoned that Job’s suffering was his own fault – but this was not true. Sometimes when people have problems, we make those same assumptions, not knowing what God is bringing to pass in someone’s life.

Job’s friends started out with good intentions. First, they just sat with Job in silence. But then they got spiritual. They felt they had to say something, and what they said was insensitive. Sometimes it’s better to just sit with someone during a trial, but keep our platitudes to ourselves.

Here are some things “helpful” people say and what suffering people think when they hear them. Although these statements may be true, they are not comforting during a present distress.

What we say: This was part of God’s plan.

What they think: I find it so reassuring that a loving God wants me to suffer.

 

What we say: God works in mysterious ways.

What they think: Yes, He does! And I wish He’d reveal a little of that mystery to me right now.

 

What we say: All things work together for good to those who love the Lord.

What they think: Maybe it will, but I don’t really care right now.

 

What we say: God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.

What they think: It doesn’t feel that way at the moment.

 

What we say: What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.

What they think: That’s catchy. Maybe they can put it on my tombstone.

 

What we say: You need to pray more.

What they think: So do you!

 

What we say: You’ll be just fine.

What they think: How the #$%# do you know?

 

What we say: Be thankful it isn’t worse.

What they think: Be thankful I’m not punching you in the nose right now.

 

What we say: I understand how you feel.

What they think: No, you don’t!

 

These statements may be true, and might be helpful in retrospect, but certainly not during the present suffering. Gracious words are sweet like a honeycomb and healing to the bones. (Proverbs 16:24) These words are not healing any bones. It might be better to just give a hug and sit in silence. Sitting in silence can be comforting.

If we must say something, consider statements like…

  • I’m so sorry you are going through this.
  • You are in my thoughts and prayers.
  • Can I bring a meal over? What would you like?
  • I’m here if you want to talk.

Consider this… People don’t want to be preached to in times of trouble. They just want to feel like someone cares.

 

Suggestions for practicing this choice…

If people want to talk to you when they are suffering, then listen. Do not give unwanted advice or say thoughtless things that make them feel worse.

Let people know you are thinking of them and praying for them. Then actually pray for them!

Ask them specifically if you can help by offering to drive the children to school, give them a ride, walk the dog, bring a meal, etc. If you ask what you can do to help, they might say, “Loan me $1000 or buy me a second-hand car.” This might not be the kind of help they really need, or that you want to offer.

Ask God for wisdom to avoid saying things that are not helpful.

Don’t get preachy. Let them know you care.

 


Choose Not to Live in the Past

Barbara | October 1, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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One More Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

 

Here’s a little something I try to remember: The past is to learn from, not to live in. So many of us live in the past, constantly lamenting what might have been. We are stuck in a “would have, should have, could have” syndrome, constantly thinking if only, if only, if only…

I have three words for you: Get over it! Everyone’s life is full of missed opportunities, some unwise decisions, and regret. These things cannot be changed. It is foolish to be held captive by things we can do nothing about.

Living in the past immobilizes us. It keeps us from enjoying the present, and prevents us from moving into the future. Christian’s lives should not be held in suspended animation. Paul says to forget what is behind. (Philippians 3:13-14) We need to concentrate on our daily walk with God – today – NOW!

We need to live in the NOW, not in the past. We are NOW freed from sin. (Romans 6:22) There is NOW no condemnation for us because we are in Christ. (Romans 8:1) NOW we are no longer tied to the law, but to Jesus Christ. (Romans 7:6) The old things have passed away and we are NOW a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17) We are NOW the children of God. (1 John 3:2) In the past we were full of darkness, but NOW we are a light to the world. (Ephesians 5:8)

WOW! With all of this NOW stuff, who would want to live in the past??? Only those who don’t understand what they NOW have in Jesus Christ.

Consider this… The Greek word for “now” is “nun,” which means at this time and henceforth into the future. So appreciating what we have NOW carries over into our future. We don’t know what we will be like in the future, but it has to be even better than NOW, because we will be more fully like God. (1 John 3:1-3)

We learn from the past, so we won’t make the same mistakes over and over again. However, we live in the NOW, participating in a lasting relationship with God, which we will carry into the future with Him.

 

Suggestions for practicing this choice…

When you are tempted to lament the past, think of what happened to Lot’s wife when she looked back. (Genesis 19:26)

Learn from the past, but don’t dwell on it. If we dwell on the past, we miss the new things God has in store for us. (Isaiah 43:18-19) As Bible teacher Beth Moore says, “Whatever God has in store for you, it’s not behind you.”

Living in the past encourages us to go back to old ways of doing things, instead of moving forward into a new era. It resists change, even change for the better.

Choose not to be a victim of your past circumstances.

Don’t get mesmerized by nostalgia. Nostalgia may be good to look back on, but not to live in. Believe it or not, the poodle skirt is long gone and so are most of the Beatles.

 


Choose Not to Disdain Simple Pleasures

Barbara | September 24, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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One More Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

Today we have many options. Most options were probably created to make life easier, but that is not always the way it works out. Too many options can leave us confused, making decisions difficult and life complicated.

For example, just wanting a drink of water when we are out and about can be confusing. Do we drink tap water, artesian water, distilled water, purified water, spring water, mineral water, or sparkling water? Should it be plain or flavored? Let’s say we choose plain spring water. Should that spring water come from the mountains, from the valley, from Iceland, France, Italy, or Germany? And don’t get me started on what container it comes in!

This carries over into the religious community as well. In A.W. Tozer’s book The Pursuit of God, he says, “Right now we are in an age of religious complexity. The simplicity which is in Christ is rarely found among us. Instead are programs, methods, organizations, and a world of nervous activities which occupy time and attention but can never satisfy the longing of the heart.” (2 Corinthians 11:3)

Believe or not, God is about simplicity. His pleasures are simple ones. Nineteenth century English preacher Frederick William Robertson puts it this way:

“All God’s pleasures are simple ones;
the rapture of a May morning sunshine,
the stream blue and green,
kind words,
benevolent acts,
the glow of good humor.”

Simple pleasures bring contentment. The world entices us into wanting more, more, more of everything. We think bigger is better and expensive is best. Sometimes less is better than more. Having less can help us focus on the truly important aspects of life without distractions. We can learn to appreciate beauty without a price tag. There is wisdom in this Thomas Fuller quote: “Better a little fire to warm us, than a great one to burn us.”

God has much to say about simple pleasures, although that exact phrase won’t be found in the Bible. He tells us to take joy in each new day. (Psalm 118:24) He emphasizes contentment. (Proverbs 30:8, 9; Hebrews 13:5) He loves unity not contentiousness. (Psalm 133:1) He wants us to be kind and tenderhearted. (Ephesians 4:32) He likes a good laugh. (Numbers 22:25-31) He encourages us to get away occasionally to regroup and replenish. (Matthew 14:23) He delights in children. (Matthew 19:14). He paints analogous pictures that bring nature alive. (Isaiah 55:12)

Consider this… God’s creation beckons us to marvel at majestic mountains, enjoy vibrant sunsets, smell fragrant roses, and calm ourselves beside still waters. You might say God did the hard work of creating all of this, so we could enjoy these simple pleasures in life.

 

Suggestions for practicing this choice…

Each time you see a happy, little child who is eager to laugh, learn, love, and forgive, tell yourself: Jesus told me to become like little children. This concept, like so many that God uses, is simple yet has profound meaning. (Matthew 18:3)

Take some time every day to appreciate those simple pleasures in life that God created. American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.”

Don’t try to muddle the simplicity of the message of Jesus. There are no hidden meanings, mysteries we can’t understand, or complicated doctrines. Jesus came to earth, He lived a perfect life, He paid the price for our sins by dying on a cross, and He victoriously rose from the grave.

Think about this…Jesus could have called the philosophers, scholars, and renowned teachers of His time to spread the gospel, but mostly He chose simple fishermen and ordinary people. (1 Corinthians 1:26, 27)

Learn to use simple explanations when talking to others and to God. Don’t try to impress with your knowledge or vocabulary. Prayers don’t need to be long and eloquent, just heartfelt. Theologian Martin Luther said, “…sometimes…the fewer the words, the better the prayer.”


Choose Not to Think Someone’s Salvation Depends on You

Barbara | September 17, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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One More Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

Some miss the mark by thinking people are lost because we do not do our part. If God is depending on us to bring everyone to salvation, salvation is doomed before it starts. We are flawed human beings. God is omnipotent. He knows better than to leave the salvation of the world in our feeble hands.

Furthermore, I’m not sure just everyone who comes along can “choose” to be a Christian. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. (Luke 19:10) We don’t choose Christ; Christ chooses us. No one comes to Christ unless the Father draws them. (John 6:44) No one comes to Christ unless God grants it. (John 6:65) Actually, people can’t even recognize Jesus as Lord unless the Holy Spirit reveals this knowledge to them – a divine revelation. (1 Corinthians 12:3)

After God draws people to Him, then they choose. Eventually His salvation will be offered to everyone, but this is according to His timing, not ours. Salvation is a gift from God. (Ephesians 2:8) It’s not something we earn – and it’s not something we try to force on others.

So what is our responsibility as Christians if we don’t know who God is calling at this time? It really doesn’t matter if we know who He’s calling and who He isn’t at this time. We know Christ has called us and we know we need to lead a life worthy of that calling. (Ephesians 4:1) We should not be just “sometimes” Christians; we should be “all-the-time” Christians.

What does that mean? It means we should live a joy-filled Christian life. We should depend on God. We should pray, study, meditate. We should serve. We should point people to Christ. We should do all that Christian “stuff,” plus participate in what Christ is doing in the lives of others. Not by shoving Christ down their throats, but by being ready to share the gospel at the appropriate time and give an answer for the hope that lies within us. (1 Peter 3:15) The answer IS Jesus.

Consider this… People are not lost because we don’t do our part. God wouldn’t do that to people. However, we can help people on their Christian journey by participating with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Sometimes God will even let us be a part of bringing people to Him. But make no mistake – this is by His orchestration, not ours.

Suggestions for practicing this choice…

We, as Christians, are new creations in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17) Set priorities reflecting the Christian life.

Ask for wisdom in dealing with people. (James 1:5)

Do not force your beliefs on others, but do not shy away from sharing the gospel when the opportunity arises.

Ask God to give you a spirit of peace. There is no need to argue doctrine with others. Our job is not to convince others God is God.

Look for ways to edify, not tear down. Don’t speak unkindly about others. Ask God to help you love, love, love!

 


Choose Not to Speak Carelessly

Barbara | September 10, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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One More Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

 

 

Lawyers who battle it out in court have one goal – to win. Therefore, they do not always play fair. Many times they will ask an objectionable question knowing the judge will not allow it. The judge will strike it from the record and instruct the jury not to give it any credibility when rendering a decision, but it will be too late. Lawyers know the jury will remember what is said. They are counting on it because what is said lingers in a person’s mind. Words have a life of their own.

This is why we must be cautious in what we say to others. Even if we apologize for making careless statements to or about others, that does not erase what was said. We cannot strike it from the record or take it back, because people will remember it even if you say you didn’t really mean it. Spoken words don’t just dissolve into the air. They live on and the damage is done.

No wonder the Bible speaks about taming our tongues. (James 3) Both David and James used the metaphor of bridling our tongues. (Psalms 39:1, James 1:26) A bridle is a leather harness and bit placed in a horse’s mouth to control it. That might seem a bit drastic to us, but in all honesty, some of us could benefit from a built-in muzzle that clamps over our mouths when we are about to say something we are going to regret.

As Christians we know the admonitions to not have a flattering tongue (Psalm 5:9), a haughty tongue (Psalm 12:2-4), a lying tongue (Proverbs 25:18), a backbiting tongue (Proverbs 25:23), a talebearer’s tongue (Proverbs 18:8), a cursing tongue (Romans 3:13, 14), a sharp tongue (Proverbs 12:18), or to gossip (Romans 1:29).

Perhaps the hardest tongue to guard against is one that manifests itself when we least expect it because our tongues speak from the abundance of our hearts. (Matthew 12:34) Unfortunately, this seems to happen with those who are closest to us. We say something stupid or hurtful and we don’t even know why. We might think, “I wonder where that came from?” But the heart knows. Someone or something can trigger unresolved issues within us, and we end up regurgitating them on others.

Solomon said to weigh our words carefully. (Ecclesiastes 5:2, 3) James said to think before we speak. (James 1:19) Jesus said what goes into our mouths is not as important as what comes out. (Matthew 15:11).

Consider this… Heartfelt words spoken with kindness, consideration, and love are beautiful. (Proverbs 25:11) They can calm, cheer, and encourage others. They are like apples of gold in a setting of silver. (Proverbs 12:25) However, careless, thoughtless words can be poisonous. (James 3:8)

Remember that words have a life of their own. What you say today lives on tomorrow!

Suggestions for practicing this choice…

Don’t be too quick to respond. A moment of thought or a little hesitation might improve what you want to say immensely.

If you are discussing a delicate situation, say a little mental prayer before you respond. “Lord, what should I say? Please guide my words. Please put Your words in my mouth.”

If you are thinking you probably shouldn’t say something, then don’t say it. A good clue is when you say, “I probably shouldn’t say this but…”

Don’t pretend to know what you are talking about when you don’t. And don’t assume you know what you are talking about.

Before you speak think about this acronym:


Choose Not to React Negatively

Barbara | September 3, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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One More Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

While we may not be able to control everything that happens to us, we are still responsible for how we think, act, feel, and respond in any given situation. At times our choices may be limited, but we can still choose to “act” responsibly instead of “react” negatively. Will we respond with strength or weakness, courage or despair, love or hate? How we respond makes a big difference in our quality of life.

When we “react” to what life throws our way, we allow circumstances and other people to determine our behavior. We let our emotions control what we do. Many times reacting is an auto-pilot response, resulting from previous programmed behavior. In other words, we don’t really think about our responses, we just react subconsciously based on what we’ve always done. Old habits die hard.

However, when we “act,” we make a conscious choice. We have to actually think and evaluate each situation. Our goal should be to do what God’s Word would have us do, not what we want to do or what we feel like doing. Therefore, each circumstance becomes a learning experience, helping us grow in grace and knowledge.

Daily life is full of stress, frustration, and offense. What do we do when faced with a whiny kid, annoying spouse, or difficult boss? What do we do when we feel hassled? Do we lash out, blow up in anger, say hurtful things, or try to get even? Scriptures teach us that these are not healthy responses and will not produce positive results.

 

We can determine some of our responses by planning ahead.

When we are stuck in a traffic jam, do we fuss, fume, and make ourselves miserable? Those are reactions that do not produce good fruit. When we drift into the habit of reacting, even minor irritants become monumental. We lose perspective. Since we all know traffic jams are inevitable, why not decide ahead of time how to act when they happen. Perhaps when a traffic jam occurs we could plan to listen to music, listen to a book on CD, count our blessings, thank God we aren’t in the accident causing the jam, pray for the person who is, or meditate on Jesus’ teachings.

When someone is rude, do we react by being rude too? Do we say, “Are you always so stupid or is today a special occasion?” Or “Keep talking and maybe someday you’ll say something intelligent!” God tells us how to deal with difficult people in Luke 32:32-36. If we internalize scripture, we can determine ahead of time that we will consciously choose to be gracious even when others are not. We will be courteous and respectful to everyone – friends and enemies.

Here’s a simple formula for learning how to act instead of react:

  • Evaluate each situation in the light of God’s Word and personal core values. Using these gauges can help determine a code of conduct to live by and make wise decisions.
  • Pray about it. Even quick, simple prayers can be effective.
  • Think before speaking.
  • Act in a Christian manner. Even choosing not to respond can be a conscious, thought-out decision or action.

Consider this… Automatic thoughts which lead to thoughtless reactions need to be brought under control – brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5) In other words, with God’s help we can control our thoughts, instead of letting them control us. We do this by thinking on what is true, honest, lovely, virtuous, of good report, and praise worthy. (Philippians 4:8) Why? Because when our minds are filled with such thoughts, we are less likely to react inappropriately.

 

Suggestions for practicing this choice…

Don’t be quick to blame, complain, condemn, or judge others. Don’t impute motives. Give the benefit of the doubt.

Be patient with others and yourself. It takes time to change reactive habits. Ask yourself if you are overreacting. How does what you are feeling mesh with God’s Word?

When tempted to react, take a break and calm down. Don’t be afraid to walk away from tense situations, take deep breaths, or count to 100 before responding (sometimes counting to 10 is not high enough). If someone says, “Why don’t you say something?” Just say, “I’m thinking about what to say.” Or “I don’t have anything to say.” Or “I don’t think I will say anything constructive at this moment.” That way you control the situation; the situation does not control you.

If you are having a disagreement with another Christian (yes, Christians disagree all the time – welcome to the real world of Christianity), suggest you both pray about the situation. If they don’t want to pray about it, you are wasting your time to get into a dialogue with them anyway. They will not want to listen to what you say.

Stay mentally, physically, and spiritually attuned by getting enough sleep, eating healthy, exercising, and staying close to God. When we take care of ourselves, we are more likely to be able to cope with others and situations that come up.

 

 


Choose Not to Be Ruled by Feelings

Barbara | August 26, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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One More Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

If we all followed our feelings, it would be a scary world indeed! Feelings are ever-changing. One day we are up and the next we are down. Feelings are unpredictable and unreliable. Some people say, “If it feels good, do it.” Afterwards, those same people might say, “Boy, I wish I hadn’t done that!” What feels good one day may feel horrible the next. Our feelings can be as fickle as we are. Feelings should not rule our lives.

The Bible says we can be angry but do not have to sin. (Ephesians 4:26) In other words, we should control our emotions instead of letting our emotions control us. Cain did something horrible when he couldn’t control his feelings. He killed his brother Abel. Cain did not know how to deal with his feelings of jealousy, resentment, and inadequacy. Following our feelings can sometimes get us into trouble.

We need to learn to make decisions that are not based on feelings. We must make right choices regardless of how we feel. God can help us do this. He won’t do it for us, but He will guide us in the right direction through prayer, meditation, and reading His word. We need to choose to follow godly principles instead of human nature.

We have to listen to what God says, not what people say. People want to debate scripture based on how they feel. Truth is truth, regardless of how we feel. People might say, “Follow your heart!” But God says following our hearts can be foolish, because our hearts can be deceitful and lead us in the wrong direction. (Jeremiah 17:9, Proverbs 28:26) Feelings can cloud issues, because feelings are not facts. Just because we feel something does not make it true.

Believe it or not, our feelings are important to God. Jesus felt deeply about things. He wept. (John 11:35) God keeps track of our sorrows and tears. (Psalm 56:8) He came for the brokenhearted. (Luke 4:17) He rejoices with us. (Zephaniah 3:17)

God created feelings and expects them to be an outlet for what happens in our lives. However, He never intended them to be a guide for what is right or wrong. It’s unwise to base decisions totally on how we feel. We might feel attracted to someone, but that doesn’t mean he/she would make a good marriage partner.

Sometimes we must fight our feelings or they will lead us in the wrong direction. Feelings of desire can lead to adultery. Feelings of jealousy can destroy relationships. Feelings of hatred can cause death. Feelings of success can lead to self-centeredness.

Consider this… Our feelings are uncertain and constantly changing, like shifting sand. However, Jesus is constant. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 3:8) So perhaps we should let Him rule our lives, instead of our emotions. If we focus on Jesus, the emotional roller coaster ride of life will not get out of control.

 

Suggestions for practicing this choice…

Sometimes it’s helpful to pinpoint specifically why we feel a certain way. Feeling bad is not a specific term. Are we feeling guilty, fearful, sad, disappointed, jealous, unappreciated, angry, or lonely? When did this feeling start? Is it just one thing upsetting us, or a number of things that happened throughout the day? Analyzing why we feel the way we do can help us understand and control our emotions.

Remember, just because we feel a certain way does not mean we need to take action. Sometimes we need to just wait it out. Feelings can be very temporary.

Are there things we can do to help the feelings subside? Perhaps we can exercise, watch a movie, listen to music, do a random act of kindness, or finish a project. We do this not to escape problems, but to get our mind on other things for a while.

If the feeling still persists we might need to counsel with someone to get a different perspective. And we definitely should be taking it to God in prayer.

What if we don’t feel like doing what needs to be done? Do it anyway. If people always wait for inspiration before they do something, nothing will get done!


Choose Not to Overcommit

Barbara | August 20, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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One More Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

Remember the old adage that if we want something done, give it to a busy person. This sounds great, unless we happen to be the busy people getting all that “to do” stuff dumped on us. Let’s talk a little about overcommitting – a subject I happen to know a lot about from personal experience.

Some of us think we can do everything. We think we can fix every situation. We think no one can do it (whatever “it” is) better than us. We overcommit to our jobs, our church, our families, our friends, various organizations, our children’s school, and so on. While these are all worthy causes, they can add hours of work and stress to our already busy lives. In addition to these worthy causes, we still have to do our daily responsibilities such as grocery shop, cook meals, wash and dry laundry, build relationships with our spouse and children, visit ailing parents, pay the bills, walk the dog, and feed the cat.

Did you know that overcommitting can lead to health problems, stress, depression, anxiety, and sleeplessness? Because we can only do so much, we get overwhelmed. We are in danger of a “crash and burn” scenario. Then we are no good to anyone, especially ourselves.

Whose fault is it when we overcommit? Ours! We are not victims; we are the product of our poor choices. We have to make hard decisions about how we use our time and energy. Sometimes it’s difficult to know the difference between a need and a want. If we place needs before wants, we can sometimes weed out a lot of unnecessary commitments.

Some of us overcommit because we don’t know how to say no. We are people pleasers and afraid of disappointing others. Believe it or not, saying no won’t kill us. We can say something like, “No thank you. I’m very flattered that you asked me, but I’m already overcommitted at this time. However, I’ll be sure to pray that you find the right person to do this.” Or if we think we might be able to do it, don’t say yes too quickly. Say, “Can I pray about his, check my calendar, and get back to you?”

Some of us think only we do certain things. Believe it or not, others can do it, too. It may not be done as well as we could do it, but it will get done. And guess what? Not every project needs to be done.

Consider this example in Exodus 18… After Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt, they still had lots of hardships and problems. Many days all Moses had time to do was sit, listen to people, and make judgments about their situations – from morning to night. When Moses’ father-in-law Jethro saw this, he said, “What are you doing and why are you doing it all alone?”

Moses answered, “When the people have difficulties, they come to me, and I judge between one and another, and make known the statutes of God.”

Jethro basically replied, “Well, this is good, but it’s too much for you. You’re killing yourself, son! Teach these people the statutes, choose men of truth who fear God and place them to be rulers of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. Then only problems they can’t solve will come to you.”

WOW! What a concept! It was a light bulb moment for Moses and he followed Jethro’s advice. So even Moses, God’s chosen and anointed one, had to learn a lesson about overcommitment.

We can’t do everything we would like to do, so we shouldn’t try. It’s better to do a few things well, than a lot of things mediocre. There is only so much time in a day. We must learn to balance our time and energy. Remember that when we say yes to some things, we have to say no to others.

Suggestions for practicing this choice…

We all have projects we have a heart for. It’s not wrong to concentrate on what we feel called to do. Pray about it and try picking only one thing in this area, not a lot.

Learn to set limits. Eliminate some activities and concentrate on others. Create boundaries and margins.

When asked to take on a responsibility, like chairing a committee or being a ministry leader, ask what the job entails. What would you be expected to do? Whatever they say, plan on it involving at least four times more things than what they are telling you. Consider all this before you say yes.

Prioritize what you become involved in. Make a list of your top priorities. For example: God, spouse, children, grandchildren, church, charity work, relatives, job-related activities, and so on. BTW… don’t confuse church involvement with having a relationship with God. They are two distinctly, different things. When opportunities come up, evaluate where they fit in your list of priorities. This will help you make a decision on whether to say yes or no.

Jesus had something to say about priorities in Matthew 6:33: “Seek first the kingdom of God.” The point of this whole passage is not to ignore our responsibilities, but learn to put first things first. (Matthew 6:25-33)