Yesterday I was clever…

 

Sally - Change image

It is a universal truth that it is not within our power to make people change. We can suggest, admonish, rebuke, nag, beg, plead… still, change must be made from within. We can shine our light, influence, teach, mentor… still, we cannot force change. While it is not within our power to change others, and often we may not be able to change our circumstances, we always have the power to change ourselves. Sometimes when we let go of what we cannot change and work on what we can change, others may be learning and growing and changing as well. Sometimes the very thing we learn to adapt to or overcome may be removed.

Another universal truth is that every soul on earth will suffer. It is ONE thing we all have in common – as spouses, parents, children and friends. We must realize that how we handle challenges is far more critical to our well-being than the actual challenges themselves.

Sometimes life is difficult. However wonderful our circumstances, however much we love those around us, however blessed we are with material and spiritual blessings… still, hard times will come. Handling little daily struggles with less frustration, irritation and sensitivity paves the way for handling the much greater struggles of life with inner peace and fortitude.

Exercise your liberty to overlook transgressions against you.

The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression. (ESV) Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. ~Proverbs 19:11

Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends. ~ Proverbs 17:9

But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. ~ Luke 6:27–36

Of course, it is critical to address the issue and to approach the person who sins against you (Matthew 18:15). However, that doesn't always offer a solution. If an offender doesn’t take responsibility or is unwilling to change, the liberty to overlook a transgression helps one to avoid bitterness and resentment. It allows one to give the benefit of the doubt or even simply overlook others' weaknesses. It is much easier for me to overlook transgressions against me when I realize that I have an awfully long list of transgressions against my fellow man and my God.

Seek first to understand, then to be understood**

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. ~ Philippians 2:3–4

Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding. ~ Proverbs 3:13

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. ~ Proverbs 18:2

Learn to seek first to understand, then to be understood in every single circumstance. Most people want to be understood and respected. It is deeply engrained in us to explain and clarify and wish for validation. However difficult it is to step back and listen first, it is best in most situations. Sometimes the ones we hope to understand the most aren’t able to explain themselves or are unwilling to offer details to help us understand their perspective. One important thing to remember if you want others to be open and honest is that you must be open to receive the communication without judgment or offense. Seeking to understand another doesn’t mean that you are validating their behavior or opinion. It requires a lot of effort and a lot of tongue-biting, but putting others' first and loving others as we wish to be loved helps put this quest in perspective.

 Maintain a merry heart. Rejoice in each day

All the days of the afflicted are evil, but the cheerful of heart has a continual feast. ~ Proverbs 15:15

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. ~ Proverbs 17:22

Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding. ~ Proverbs 3:13

This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. ~ Psalm 118:24

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. ~ James 1:2–4

Learn to rejoice in what each day brings. Learn to laugh at yourself instead of having the world-on-your-shoulders mentality. If you cannot find any humor in your circumstances, learn to give the benefit of the doubt when others don't "get" you or your issues. Own up to all your idiosyncrasies… all the little likes and dislikes that make us different, including the way we deal with adversity. It really helps to understand that, while it may seem like your personal set of circumstances are much worse than another’s, it is nearly always true that there are many whose circumstances are far worse.

When you feel burdened and overwhelmed, look for the rainbows after the storms. Own up to your struggles and weaknesses and make your life a drama free zone. Handle your personal drama without being offended by what others think of it. Understand that others may often see your drama as insignificant, amusing or even confusing. It is easier to swallow this when we think of things that others do that we think are silly, but are big things to them.

Respond to negative situations with kindness and understanding instead of anger and sensitivity

A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back. ~ Proverbs 29:11

A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention. ~ Proverbs 15:18

Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city. ~ Proverbs 16:32

A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating. A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul. ~ Proverbs 18:6–7

Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. ~ Proverbs 26:4

Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him. ~ Proverbs 29:20

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. ~ Proverbs 15:1

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. ~ Proverbs 12:18

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. ~ Proverbs 31:26

We cannot control others' actions, but we can control our reactions. We have outbursts of wrath and liken ourselves to Elijah and the prophets of Baal and Jesus in the temple. We forget that we are to be angry without sinning and we fail to understand just how that works. We are crusaders out for justice, rebels with a cause. While there is a place for anger (the kind of pure anger that doesn’t involve sin on the part of the just), we often need patience and understanding. Sometimes we need to pray and wait. Patience may mean ‘suffering long’. Once we've tried to address a situation and understood that it's not ours to change…we have to let God work in people's lives and we have to do our best to make the best of the situation.

If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain. ~Maya Angelou

**(phrase borrowed from Stephen Covey)

Category: Musings
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