A New Year to Reconnect with Life…


download

As we reflect on the past year, it is easy to think about all of the things we didn’t like and make grandiose plans for the coming new year. But, do we really need to do that? If we want to lose weight, did we not want to lose weight last year? If our aim is the elimination of bad habits, did we engage in those bad habits in the year that is ending now? The same logic could be applied infinitum. Thus it seems it’s not so much changing the small parts that make up our life as it is our attitude towards life as a whole. There is a reason we get too heavy; we engage in unhealthy behaviors; we become bored and depressed and seek something new, exciting and different. But, that which we seek really has nothing to do with the date on the calendar as much as it has to do with our overall general approach to the life we are living now. The life you are seeking underneath your list of new year’s resolutions is actually here already. You just need to reconnect with it. You need to reengage with life.

All living things are either living or dying, thriving or deteriorating. There is no status quo when it comes to life. And, as you no doubt have guessed already, living in this world there is a tendency towards deterioration and decay. It’s not how God originally planned it, but it is what it is at this point! The world is a frightfully negative place. Social media is negative. Your friends tend towards being negative. The circumstances you find yourself in – negative. It is how the world runs and it is how the world functions. Ever since that old snake got involved with God’s creation, decay replaced flourishing with loss and defeats becoming the order of the day. As such, it is no wonder we have all become disconnected with life. It’s not so much the world’s way that has defeated us as it is how we have let the world into our hearts. We expect things not to work out. We peer around the corner in good situations waiting for the the shoe to drop; the bad things to appear. We are not gluttons for punishment, but rather have been systematically trained to expect negativity; to look for the cracks; to find reasons not to maintain any semblance of hope or positive expectation. In this, over time, we have been swept away from life and not to life. And, in our ignorance, we have been led away from the source of life and all that could ever be good about life. We chase money and status and sunny days without troubles. We long to feel good again and long for the energy and enthusiasm that accompany that goodness. We promise ourselves to get better at this and stop doing that in the hopes that we can discover or rediscover that which we seemed to have lost. Enter the new year and its promise for better things ahead.

Curiously, instead of taking the time to think and consider what might have occurred that robbed us of our life or our happiness in life, we flap around on the surface of things assuring ourselves that if we only had more money or more time or more favorable circumstances, things would quickly take a turn for the better. Surely dry January will do the trick instead of learning what all that alcohol is replacing in our minds. We eat too much and hate the result, but never quite figure out why we are eating so much. All excesses, a thing we are all guilty of, point us to some missing element in our lives, some unresolved issue, some fear allowed to hang around and plague us. Fears and worries and our constant preoccupation with ourselves and whether or not we are going to be okay, suck the very life from us. The more we think we have finally figured out, the less we actually know, yet we keep persisting in the same game year after lousy year, loving life less and less as every year transpires. What, you’re thirty, forty, fifty, sixty years old and you already have figured everything out? You don’t need to make any changes in your thinking or your conclusions? You don’t need to consider that you have perhaps been led astray in some capacity? I submit to you, with all the honesty my soul can fathom, that if your life sucks it does so because you have been deceived in some category of life which you have yet to discover. You have, as my wife is wont to say, gotten entrenched in some fixed mindset that serves only to limit and curtail your life rather than to enhance it. Look, we are all in this thing together and there is nothing you are experiencing that all of us haven’t experienced at one time or another. We all get down in life and feel miserable. We all get wrapped up in stupidity and the things that rob life from us. We all get perplexed, lost, confused and afraid. That isn’t the issue at all. The issue is whether or not we can humble ourselves to figure out why and then at last find the way back. The way back exists regardless of the date on the calendar!

When you reconnect with life, you will find that life and God and goodness have been here all along. God is more than willing to teach you something new. He is infinitely capable of exposing the darkness that has been wearing you out. He sees all and knows all. If you are going to make a New Year’s resolution, resolve yourself to rediscover life. Step down from that old, high horse of ego and be willing to admit that something has gone astray. You know if things aren’t working for you so you might as well admit it! I’m not sure what it is about being a human being that convinces us there is nothing new to know; no new path to discover; no new road to take. Sometimes you just need to find someone you love and trust and talk things through with them. Then while you are discussing your plight, listen to what they have to say. There will be errors of thought and subsequent actions you are taking. Be open to it. Lord knows we all need help from the people that love us most. But, in the end, seek the help from the One most capable of providing it; the One that knows you better than you know your own self. Don’t spend any pointless time lamenting your past errors. If there wasn’t an adversary, all of us would likely remain error free. But, there is an adversary and he happens to be dang good at his game. Forgive yourself, learn and find that life you have been missing. No matter what has happened to you or how low you may have sunk, underneath it all are the everlasting arms of God, ready, willing and able to give you a fresh start! Reconnect with life. Reengage life, your life. Look for the promise of brighter days ahead no matter what the calendar is reporting. Happy New Year my friends and I love you.

Just some good thoughts…

Be Patient…


We live today in the culture of hurry. We want our food fast, our internet fast, our weight loss programs fast, our test results fast. We tend to seek out the quick fix, the shortcut. We don’t want to invest the time, just get it done, the sooner the better. Microwave beats stove top and temporary repairs are preferred over lasting solutions. We just don’t have the time to invest in doing things properly or the right way because we have to get to the next thing. Can’t we just pay a guy or order it on Amazon and get it done already? And while technological advances have certainly made life easier, we seem to have lost our ability to exercise a little patience. The best things in life always seem to take a little time. Do we even know anymore what it means to be patient?

If you have ever watched a craftsman at work, it becomes apparent rather quickly that there is always an element of time involved. The craftsman isn’t just trying to get the job done, but instead is seeking to get the job done where the result is perfect and beautiful and pleasing. People are willing to pay more for that person because the quality of the work speaks for itself. And as much as our frenetic world says otherwise, quality always makes the lasting impression. It’s quality, not quantity that we are after. The lowest bidder’s work generally reflects a lower quality because of the time and effort they are willing to exert on the task. If you pay less, you generally get less. The cheap clothing doesn’t last and for every dollar you save in your purchase, you pay for in terms of its longevity. It is better that you spend more on the front end than count on the bargain to stand the test of time.

In life, the best things take time. Relationships take time. Raising children takes time. Perfecting a skill takes time. Success takes time. Learning to live life the best way takes time. There are no shortcuts. Shortcuts always promise a faster result but fail to deliver, though they appear to do so at first. Whatever is easy generally isn’t worth it. That’s not to say that everything good is hard, but rather that good things require an investment on your part. Expecting good things without investing your own personal time and energy into those good things cannot fail but to produce loss. You may be able to count on the conveniences of technology to make things happen faster, but the real things in life; the most important things, require time and with time, patience.

Patience is a lost virtue in the helter-skelter of life today. We have been seduced by technology into thinking that there is always a way to obtain a result more quickly. We carry that mindset into our important life activities and expect a similar result. We seek to get the degree quickly in order to advance, but leave off the learning. We pursue important changes in our lives by employing the method that seems to get us there the fastest. We are all hat and no cowboy. We look good not by patient training and self control, but by the cosmetic surgeon’s scalpel. We want the diet plan that offers to burn the calories via a pill that requires neither exercise nor portion control. We want to have our cake and eat it too. In terms of our mental health, we don’t want to invest the time in discovering where our thinking patterns have gone astray, but instead seek for a diagnosis with its subsequent promised medication fix. And while medication is a beautiful addition to life, the goal was always that we arrived at the good place naturally, even if it took a little time. Modern advances certainly succeed in making life easier, but sometimes the ease and the convenience are not what we really need. It’s the pricks and the obstacles and the difficulties of life that really put us on our toes and awaken us to life’s more important lessons, as Emerson masterfully noted. Give a man a serious challenge to contend with and note how quickly he engages himself fully until a solution is at last found.

The reason we do not exhibit patience in life is that we have bought into the illusion that we have no time. We fail to recognize how forcefully we are being pushed and pulled towards activities that have little impact in helping us to live our best lives. We feel as if we don’t have time to think things through, much less the time required to actually solve our problems and make strides towards a brighter future. We are loathe to engage in something uncomfortable or new even if that new thing might serve to completely revolutionize our lives. Instead we go to work expending our best efforts for someone else and leave ourselves and our happiness undone. When we try something new or endeavor to move in a different direction, we feel that we don’t have the time or the energy to make the necessary changes though we only gave it a minimal try at best. Living this way, we soon find ourselves at the end of this brief life, full of regrets regarding the man or woman we always knew we could be. And all along all we had need of was a little patience. All we needed to do was step off the hamster wheel and take ourselves to account. We only needed to slow down a little and give our lives a little more consideration.

It’s never too late to begin practicing patience. Patience isn’t as concerned in getting the job done as it is in getting the job done properly. Patience knows that all good things take time and allots its time accordingly. Patience is required to live a successful life and to allow yourself the love and the space to get it right! Be patient with yourself and extend that same patience to everyone and every thing that you love. Be patient.