Control…


iStock-1055448892.2e16d0ba.fill-735x490It doesn’t take too many negative circumstances before it becomes apparent how much of our lives we don’t actually control. Oh we think we do! We drive ourselves bonkers trying to think through every possible variable to maximize our chances at success. We plan and exercise diligence. We read up and study, and if it’s dangerous, we put in extra time. And all we are really after is some safety and some security. The illusion of control is what sends a person over the edge when they fall victim to a robbery or something worse. We all like to feel secure and we all seek out circumstances that aid in that pursuit. But, have you ever considered how much of our lives we actually do control? Or, to put it another way, are we spending maybe too much time trying to control something that we never controlled in the first place?

Certain things happen in our lives that we didn’t see coming. People get sick or are diagnosed with diseases that despite their best efforts in maintaining healthy habits, happened anyway. People lose their secure jobs and find themselves unemployed. Time and chance happen to them all, as the saying goes. When these events happen, I think it teaches us that our reliance cannot be based entirely on our human efforts. Sure we should do our best and we all know that if you play with fire long enough, you are going to get burned. But, some folks do play with fire and nothing seems to happen at all. Other folks cannot seem to catch a break. This alone instructs us that there is often more to situations than meets the eye. There are forces at work outside of us, perpetually plotting and scheming to bring about negative results. For this the world is usually blind. Instead people try to take on more than they can actually control and are the worse off because of it. You can literally worry yourself to an early grave. You can be so afraid of some potential negative outcome that you end up working to bring it to pass in your own life. There must be a better way. There must be something we can do to multiply our chances for success while minimizing our chances at failure or defeat. Notwithstanding, all of us are going to be punched in the mouth at times and how we respond will ultimately define the result of the contest.

If you really think about it, was is it that we actually control? We cannot exercise control over the economy. We do not control health or healing. We can make healthy choices, but we do not control it. Physicians do not cure, they help facilitate cures. We do not control the weather. We cannot control mechanical things or ensure their continued operation. Ask anyone whose air conditioning goes out in the middle of summer. We alone cannot guarantee our children’s safety. We cannot guarantee anyone’s safety. We cannot control the people we have relationships with, though we are loathe to admit it. In short, most of life, most of our lives we do not control at all. Why spend another moment in futile worries and frets over things we never controlled in the first place. Why run the multitude of foul thoughts through our minds threatening this disaster or the next? Why drive ourselves to the brink making sure we do everything in the right way and at the right time, terrified if we misstep that calamity is right around the corner? There actually is Someone that has control over every variable and we owe it to ourselves to find who He is and then relinquish all back over to Him. Grasping and clutching, hanging on and clinging to our illusions of safety do nothing but exhaust us and take our energy for doing anything good. Relinquish the control you have been trying so desperately to maintain and learn how to trust Him instead. Do your best and let God do the rest! Or as life has taught me thus far, God will do His best for me despite my efforts, good or bad. Maybe the good just helps me feel better.

There is literally only one thing we as humans can control and that is our thinking. (Please read that again!) Stuff is going to come at us. Negative events will take place. At times, we will suffer losses. But, no matter what is going on, we can still control our thinking. We can decide, though all hell paints another picture, that what God said is true, is true. The enemy of mankind is the master of deception. He seeks to persuade you of things that are not true so that you will cooperate with his devious plans for your life. If you don’t fold, you cannot lose as another great man once remarked. Your job, my job is to stop wasting away our lives thinking about things that are not true and focus instead on things that are true. All of your very best thinking does not heal your body, God does. Your discipline of will does not cause you to prosper, God does. Your tortuous exercise routine doesn’t guarantee your longevity, God does. All of that mind boggling stuff you are putting yourself through day by day in an effort to be safe, to stay safe, does not keep you safe, God does! Controlling your thinking means keeping things straight in your mind. You control what you will and what you will not think about. You decide what you will believe and what you refuse to believe. If God can feed one of His guys with a raven, I am sure He can take care of you. Instead of investing all of that effort in your to do list, invest that effort in learning what He says He will do and then in learning how to trust Him. Can you imagine how much easier your life will become when you finally let go of all those things you didn’t control anyway? Control the one thing you can control and see how much better things get for you.

God knows all, sees all, is omnipotent and all powerful. Shoot, He can see the future! He knew what you needed long before you knew. He made provisions for you well in advance. He knows how to heal you. He knows how to prosper you. He knows how to solve all of your heart needs; every single one of them. He is everything you will ever need. And, all He wants from you is your love. He wants you trust Him. He wants you to reach out to Him and lay your heart out before Him. He doesn’t need your good behaviors, He wants your heart. His design for life was that you would go to Him for everything you ever needed. He knows all of the variables and His thoughts are above, far above your thoughts. He wants to do for you what you cannot do for yourself. When you finally turn it all over to Him, you can rest a bit. You can relax. You can start to enjoy your life instead of wasting it away worrying over a million things you cannot control. And best of all, when negative stuff happens to you, He will turn it around for your good and show you things you could have never imagined before. He is a God of abundance and it is all there for you.

Loosen your grip brother. Relax your hands sister. God is in control no matter what it looks like. Control the one thing you can control and see how wonderful this life can be.

Just some good thoughts…

The Happiness Quotient


HappinessImage-1Husbands just want to make their wives happy. Mothers wish above all things that their children would be happy. Therapists advise their clients to pursue the things that make them happy. Work performed by people in harmony with their heart’s desires makes them happy. Overcoming great challenges, winning in conflict, improving and succeeding all generally lead to happiness. As thinking and feeling human beings, happiness is always near the top of our priorities and when we aren’t happy, nothing serves as a substitute for it. Gobs of money, grand successes, glorious homes, exotic cars and fancy yachts are no reward for the person who isn’t happy. Happiness is such a primary part of our human existence that we cannot survive long without it. Some folks seem to be happy in every type of circumstance while others cannot seem to find happiness in anything.  Happiness is always subjective and varies from person to person, yet despite the variety involved is universal in its application. Why are some folks happy consistently, while others seem unable to locate it? Is happiness something that can be measured and analyzed to be improved upon or is happiness rather an internal interpretation present whenever we decide it will be? What is your happiness quotient?

Anyone who has lived any length of time will tell you that happiness isn’t something you can purchase. Lots and lots of people with lots and lots of money are quite miserable to say the least. Yet strangely, some folks with truckloads  of money are very happy. Conversely, some folks with very limited resources are sublimely happy, while others spend their days cursing their existence. On the surface alone, it’s obvious that material resources don’t contain the lynch pin for happiness. But, those same resources can certainly contribute to or when absent, detract from one’s happiness quotient. It seems it’s not the things that are responsible for your happiness, but rather your interpretation of those things. Objects have no meaning outside the meaning you have assigned them. Thus, the first step in figuring out your own, personal happiness quotient, to produce more of it, is to figure out just what is going on in that mind of yours. How are you interpreting the events that make up your life? If your interpretation is wrong or perpetually negative, your happiness will be limited no matter what else is going on. If you have been so schooled to see the wrong in everything, cynical, critical and wary of any good continuing, you cannot reasonably expect happiness to follow. Complaining of not being happy while thinking and doing things unhappily is an absurd proposition. Similarly, waiting for happiness to appear unwelcome by pervasive foul thought is an exercise in futility. Happiness won’t suddenly one day show up at your door, it already dwells inside. 

When you really try to break down the components of happiness, one thing is very clear. Happiness is present when unhappiness is not present. You cannot be happy and unhappy at the same time. You have to choose one or the other. However, you cannot somehow choose happiness and happiness will appear. That sounds good, but it lacks the proper substance. The irony is that choosing to be happy does not really make you happy. Instead true happiness appears when you have successfully eliminated the causes of your own unhappiness. Happiness isn’t a treasure you stumble upon and find. Happiness is the reality behind the things that are obscuring it or hiding it. When you feel as if you are not safe or not okay or are powerless against the perilous dangers of the world, you won’t be happy until you find the solution to that problem. Happiness isn’t about floating along mindlessly oblivious to the things that are happening all around you. Happiness is problem solving or at least being willing to entertain the notion that there might be something you don’t already know! For all of the complexity involved with us as human beings, we are incredibly simple when it comes to how we feel. And despite our many differences, we all need the same basic things. Happiness comes when we learn how to get those uncomplicated needs met. 

If you are honest, you know when you are not happy and you know why. Even when our happiness is being stilted and we don’t think we know why, a little reflective thought will usually reveal the answer. However, sometimes the answer is not something we are willing to entertain. But, if it is blocking your happiness, it is worth thinking about. One great thing that generally happy people have in common is their willingness to work towards solutions to their problems, knowing there are always solutions for their problems. People spend half their lives unhappy with their spouse, yet adamantly refuse to do anything about it because, after all, it’s them and not me.  Such refusals to see things for what they really are serve only to perpetuate unhappiness. At the end of the day, it is your job to believe to find the solution to your problems, no matter what they are. Living with and accepting problems is a guarantee for unhappiness persisting. The more you can eliminate the causes for your unhappiness the happier you will be. The more you assign outside causes as the source of your unhappiness, the more unhappy you will remain. 

Happiness in its stripped down reality is really a sense of contentment and safety and assurance that our needs will be met. It is the soul of a person that has ceased from his own works and learned to rely upon another. Happiness is no longer trying to be the sole source of your own needs being met and trusting someone greater than yourself to supply those needs. God is that someone greater than yourself.  God never intended for you to figure out life on your own and your resultant unhappiness is the measure of where you fit along that scale. Again, if you are honest, most of the big problems of life you aren’t going to be able to solve by yourself. Trying and working and toiling to do so won’t get the job done. You can be sincere and a hard worker and tireless in your endeavors, but the things you need the most don’t come from your own efforts. True happiness resides in the heart of a man or a woman who has relinquished their endless fears and worries to someone who can actually do something about them. Real happiness comes when you stop fighting against the reality of things and line yourself up with what is rather than foolishly trying to do it your own way, with your own limited human logic, within the confines of your own mind! Happiness reveals itself after the obstacles to its existence have been removed. Joy appears following a complete and absolute trust in your Heavenly Father to do for you what you cannot do for yourself. The happiness you so desperately seek comes from doing what God said to do, which is simply summarized by believing what He said and thereby thinking and acting in the way He recommends. He won’t ask you to give up anything but your fear, the one and only great hold back impeding your happiness. 

I find myself the most happy when I simply trust God to do the things for me He promised He would do. No matter how things look or whether dark clouds are lining up, throughout it all I know that God will do whatever He needs to do to take care of me and in that I can rest, content, assured and excited about my future with Him. You want to maximize your happiness quotient? Then get out of your own way and learn about the One who invented happiness and knows exactly what you need in order to experience it. Oh my friends, God exists for you…

Just some good thoughts…