Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Practice Thanks Living (Part 2)

I wrote in my last post that my goal for 2016 is to practice Thanks Living based on a familiar quote by Bill Keane.

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God,
which is why we call it the present.”

It’s easy to be under the delusion that past hurts and circumstances can’t hurt me anymore. I tell myself that I’ve dealt with my past and it doesn’t control my life today. But, from time to time, the past rears its head and must be dealt with again. However, my greatest challenge is keeping a proper perspective on the future.

Tomorrow is a Mystery

I don’t like mysteries. When I am reading a mystery novel, I often turn to the back to see how it all comes out; then go back and read the rest of the story. Personality-wise I’m a realist, a planner, and a fixer which is not a good combination for dealing with an unknown future. Since I can’t grasp the future, do anything about it, or keep something from happening—I get frustrated and turn into a WORRIER. In spite of my Christian faith and growing understanding of what the Bible says about worrying—it’s an ever present DANGER.

Worry is caused by fear and our bodies and minds are not equipped to deal with being under a constant state of alert. Maybe that’s why the Bible speaks so clearly on the subject. “Fear not” is mentioned in the Bible more than 365 times—once for each day of the year, plus. So, I decided to make a list of the things in my future I tend to worry about—failing health, being alone, loss of a loved one, and financial problems.  SURPRISE!  I’ve experienced every one of those things and I survived. The God who provided for me in ways I’ve never imagined will provide for me in the future. My future may be a mystery to me, but God sees my life from the beginning to the end and it’s all in His hands.

One of the advantages of growing older is perspective. As I look back on things I worried about, I find that the majority of my worries never came to pass. Things that weren’t even on my radar screen became daily priorities instead. Think of all the time I wasted worrying about what never came to pass. Make this a true season of Thanks Living by memorizing the following verse and living by its message.

“Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, 
and thank him for all he has done.” (and what He will do).  NLT Philippians 4:6

My final post in this series will come in two weeks: Today is a Gift of God. Please comment below and share your thoughts.  If you post anonymously, please add your name at the end of your message. God Bless and Happy Thanksgiving. I love hearing from you.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Practice Thanks Living (Part 1)

Thanksgiving is one day or maybe a month during which we focus on feasting and being thankful.  Thanksgiving is also the first day of the holiday rush. I get so bogged down that by the time the holidays are over I’m worn out, and the idea of making New Year’s resolutions seems overwhelming. So this year I decided to determine my goals for 2016 early in connection with Thanksgiving.  My goal for 2016 is to practice Thanks Living. The following quote outlines the essence of Thanks Living.

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God,
which is why we call it the present.” Bill Keane

Having the right perspective on yesterday, today, and tomorrow helps me practice Thanks Living. At first I thought I would put my ideas into one blog post but the more I thought and prayed about it, I decided to write three blogs dealing with what it means to experience Thanks Living.

Yesterday is History
What do we do with the past? We’ve all been through some tough times. We’ve been hurt by the actions of others. We’ve made some bad choices. Is it possible to make peace with our past? According to a youtube video called The Josh Speaks, the first step to dealing with the past is to remember it. In other words don’t stuff bad memories and paper over them with some addiction that only adds to your difficulties today. Don’t allow yourself to become a victim of your past.  Dwell on past events and wrongs and they grow bigger, more powerful, and destroy today’s potential for happiness. What you feed is what will grow.

Writing down past memories is very therapeutic. When I wrote my memoir Born Three Times, I examined my past in great detail. There were some things I enjoyed remembering and some painful experiences that I wanted to forget. But as I looked at the totality of my life, it became clear that the person I am today is the result of the good, bad, and ugly of the past. I saw how God has used all the details of my life to grow me in my Christian life. 

Is your past so painful you can’t overcome its negative effects? Consider getting the help of a friend or a professional that can help provide you with positive coping skills. Being able to put the past behind us is also good for our health. Carrying grudges or hurts leads to stress and high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, and other negative side effects that hurt our minds and bodies.

Learning how to forgive the past is also good for us spiritually. The Bible tells us how important it is for us to forgive.

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14-15

Wow! I want to be forgiven by God, don’t you? I don’t want to have to give an account for every ugly word, or action, or thought I’ve had. So I must ask God to help me forgive those who hurt me in the past. We just recently cleaned out our bedroom closet. It had been way too long and the collection of dusty boxes and dust bunnies was a little overwhelming. It was also time to sort clothes and discard what no longer fit. Now that it’s done, I enjoy going into the closet to choose what to wear for the day. Forgiving the past is like cleaning out a dirty and dusty closet. You don’t like to stir things up, but once it is clean and you let stuff go, you find freedom.

“Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you.” ~Jean Paul Sartre

Begin practicing Thanks Living this month as you prepare for the holiday season and stay tuned for my next blog post “Tomorrow is a Mystery.”