Friday, November 2, 2007

No... Thank YOU!

Someone once told me many years ago that the best therapy for feeling discontented, is to go out of your way to do something for someone in need. The key of course, is that you'll feel so good in having a hand in making someone else's existance better, that you'll forget about your own unpleasant circumstances - at least for a time.

If you're anything like me, you can probably see the flaws in this line of thinking, as well as the benefits of actually carrying it out. From a Biblical worldview, the first flaw would be the very idea that you're not content in your current circumstances. That's a difficult place to be for a alot of people, and for a lot of legitimate reasons; and yet it's still unbiblical. Paul said that he had learned how to be content in whatever state he was in. (Phil.4:11) The writer of Hebrews tells us that we are to be content with what we have (Hebrews 13:5). 1Tim.6:6-8 Tells us that having a sense of suffiency with life's necessities is something believers ought to posses. There are numerous other passages that deal with being content, but the key is to let our hearts and minds dwell on the good, and be thankful for it, rather than allowing our hearts and minds into a state of unrest and discontentment over what we do not have, or cannot change. While this certainly doesn't negate the fact that there are plenty of "things" in our lives that we wouldn't change in a heartbeat if we could, and it does not negate the fact that they might very well be incredibly difficult or unpleasant, it does give us a better way to think about them. That better way is to put them in a perspective of what God has given us, and that He is faithful to give us all we need. Simply put, it's a matter of the way we look at things. We can either dwell on God's goodness and be content, or we can dwell on unpleasant circumstances and live in a discontented state. Scripture is clear which we're supposed to be doing.

I could point out a couple of other flaws in this line of thinking, but I'd much rather focus on the good part. It is absolutely true that being able to participate in doing something that brings joy to someone else, makes their life better, makes them smile, makes them breathe a sigh of relief, or in some other way blesses them, that you are likewise blessed. It's also not always a bad thing to forget about your own unpleasant circumstances for a time. Sometimes doing that will give you a fresh perspective on them, and maybe even a better way to approach them, or deal with them, or even resolve them. At the very least, you're given the opportunity to put your own issues in a broader perspective and that's quite often a very good thing. Especially if you find that in taking a moment or a day to forget about them, you learn that they aren't nearly as bad as you might have thought they were.

You may be wondering where I'm going with this, or why I even mentioned it. Well, I mentioned it because it came to my mind today while reading that Rebecca will once again this year make November a month of Thankfulness. If you haven't read her November blogging before, you're in for a real blessing for the next 30 days. Reading about what other people are thankful for allows you a tiny peek into the hearts and minds of other people, gives you the opportunity to rejoice with them, and also thank the Lord for the great and wonderful things He's doing in other folk's lives. You may not be actually doing anything that contributes to the welfare of others in this little exercise (like I mentioned above) but you are opening yourself up to being blessed by what others are blessed by, and in doing that, you'll no doubt sense an attitude of thankfulness and gratefulness yourself. That goes a long way toward being content!

The "where I'm going with this" part is easy. My contribution to Rebecca's theme for the month starts today with my being ever so thankful for my friend Kim. This will embarass her a little bit but that's okay, she recently told me to have a good day or she'd slap me, so I guess I can embarass her if I want to. What are friends for, afterall?

For a variety of reasons that I wont go into just now, I just don't have many female friends. It's been okay with me to be like this my whole life, until the last few years. I'm not sure when or how that changed exactly, but I think it began to change about 3 years ago. The part that changed was that it was no longer "okay" with me that it was like that, and I began to have a desire to have more female friends. Providentially enough, that was the same time I met Kim.

Since we first met, some of our kids have gone through teen phases at the same time, said some of the same kinds of things (both good and bad), done some of the same things (both good and bad), and we've both had Beagles that eat things neither one of us blog about - but can share privately. Ugh, Beagles. We read the same books, have been in each other's kitchens, would likely give up state secrets for a bag of plain potato chips, and have just been there for each other when it was needed. Words are a little hard to come by to express how thankful I really am to the Lord for allowing Kim and I to meet, and to become friends. There is much to be said for sisterhood in the Lord, that someone else could defintely say much better than I can. I feel a tad weepy just saying this much, and saying it publicly this way.

Here's to hoping you also take up Rebecca's suggestion and share something today that you're thankful for.