Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Joyful, Thankful Heart

"A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones." Proverbs 17:22 (NKJV)
"Better is a dry morsel with quietness, than a house full of feasting with strife." Proverbs 17:1
"Better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman." Proverbs 21:19

Did you ever notice how many verses there are in Proverbs that talk about how horrible it is to live with a quarrelsome, contentious, or angry woman? I was actually surprised when I was reading through Proverbs again how often it repeats that it's better to live in the wilderness or on the corner of a roof than to share a house with an angry woman.

It is very easy to fall into complaining... it seems to come naturally. But while complaining may feel like a release at the time, but it only makes you more discontent and unhappy. (This isn't to say that you can never talk to anyone about what bothers you, just don't make a habit of remarking on things that you don't like! Save it for the bigger things so that people will take you seriously.)

Here is my favorite passage in the Bible... Philippians 4:4-8 " Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things." (NKJV)

So, looking at these verses, what are a few principles that we can take out of it to help us not complain?

1. Don't wait until you are consumed by your anxiety... pray right away when something happens to bother you

2. when you pray, give thanks for as much as you can. Try to think of something to be thankful for in the worrisome thing that has happened. If you had a fight with your sister, tell God how thankful you are that He has blessed you with a sister. Think about what you like about her and give thanks for that too. This gets your mind started on an upward slant instead of downward.

3. "Let your requests be made known to God". Tell God what you want!

-Now, what about in everyday life when nothing big and upsetting has happened?
Well, still do what the verse says. It doesn't matter whether the discontent in your heart springs from having something really bad happen or from just not wanting to do the dishes.
I have found that if your request to God is not that the other person would change but that YOU would change, it often is granted. (ie "Thank you so much that we have food to eat so that the dishes are dirty. Please help me to enjoy serving my family.")-

4. Try to see the positive side of whatever is bothering you (Like dirty dishes... if there were no dirty dishes it might mean that you didn't have any food!)

5. Make it a point to say at least five positive things a day out loud about your chores (or whatever you usually complain about)

6. Smile at everyone... offer sympathy when needed, but do it cheerfully. Going around with a frown on your face does not present a very attractive picture of young womanhood.

Remember, most of us have little siblings (or young children of our own) watching our every move. You may not realize it, but whatever you do will have a huge influence over the ones that watch you.

For a long time I was cheerful most of the time, but when I had to clean out the dish drainer I would kind of shake my head and sigh as I went sloooowly to put away the dishes. Not too long ago one of my siblings did the EXACT SAME THING before going to do their chore.
I haven't done that in a really long time, so it really struck me how careful I need to be to model a thankful and joyful heart even when I don't feel like it.
Now this isn't to say that you have to be perfect. I'm far from perfect (big surprise, right?). But it is saying that it is important to realize that you are in a position of leadership whether you like it or not.
Sometimes I get worried about the fact that I am not always a good example of cheerfulness, but then I just have to put the principles in Philippians 4 to work again! :-)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

That Annoying Feeling (Or 'Crushes')

Ah yes, you can see it now... that pre-teen girl who giggles and blushes whenever that cute little boy walks by... the ridiculous things she will do to get his attention... Is that ok or is it really wrong?
Some of us have been raised to think that to have a 'Crush on someone' is perfectly normal and right, and some of us have been raised to think that to have a 'Crush' is just about the worst thing in the world. But guess what? Neither of those views are completely correct.

First of all, I'd better say that I'm defining "Crush" as a feeling of attraction towards someone of the opposite sex. It can be a physical or emotional attraction, but it means that you are just attracted to someone and do not share any physical intimacy with them.

Now, God created us to have these feelings. It is a good thing when we find some one of the opposite sex attractive. So we can't say that it is sinful to 'like' a boy. But since humans are never perfect we need to know when we are abusing God's gift.

1. I believe that it is wrong to train children from infancy to think that if someone is kind to you, or if you are kind to someone else that makes you their girlfriend. (You know what I mean... Billy and Gracie are only 2, but when Gracie starts to cry and Billy gives her a hug the Moms say "Oh how cute! She's his little girlfriend!" That kind of stuff makes me sick.)

2. When you get to a certain age you will be attracted to boys. That is a good thing and there is nothing you can do about it.

3. Feelings are just feelings! When you feel attracted to someone, just say "Oh, huh, look at that. I'm attracted to them. So?" And don't get freaked out and worried.
It is silly to make this emotion more important than any other emotion. I feel angry sometimes. So? No big deal as long as I don't focus on it and become obsessive about it.

4. It is not the temptation that is wrong, it is what you do with the temptation. Ok, so you might be tempted to steal a cookie... if you shrug your shoulders and walk away it's not a problem. If you keep thinking about the cookie after you've walked away and keep going back and smelling the cookie, imagining eating the cookie, that's wrong.
So you might have a desire to have a physical relationship with someone. It's not a problem if you shrug your shoulders and walk away. But don't keep thinking about it and imagining what it would be like to have it.

5. Everyone has these feelings. So it's not something to be ashamed of. It might be something you want to talk to your Mom about, or maybe your sister, but on the other hand, it's not something you should talk about all the time.

6. You can think that someone is nice without having a crush on them.

Ok, so now, we have these feelings, and we know that God created us to feel like this, but it's easy to slip into focusing on this or that guy... WHAT CAN WE DO???

1. Don't think about it. If thoughts of him keep coming into your mind just say "Nope, I'm going to think about that" and then think of something else. (You may have to do that several hundred times a minute until you get used to it.)
Tell your mind that it's not high on your 'thought priority list'.

2. When you are in company with him, try to look at what his brothers and sisters seem to think of him because if they don't like him, chances are he's not a very nice person.
I personally am rarely or never attracted to someone's looks, but rather to their character. However, I do know that this is not the case for everyone (and there's nothing wrong with that).

3. Pray about it. (These obviously aren't in order of importance because this is the most important.) Pray that if it is not of God (and to be honest with ourselves, unless we're of marriageable age, most of the time it's not of God) that He would take the feeling away.
It may be a while (sometimes even months or years), but God will take away the feeling if it is not in His plan.

4. If you are of marriageable age, compare his character next to what the Bible says is a godly man. Sometimes this in and of itself can get rid of the attraction entirely. ;-)

5. Avoid things that foster the attraction and desire. Things like Romance novels, movies, and songs can all be VERY unhelpful.

6. Sometimes just talking to your Mom or sister makes it go away... secrets tend to be more binding than non-secrets. If you don't have a great relationship with your Mom try to improve it before you talk to her, but if you don't have a Mom or a sister, you may want to find an older sister type of girl to talk to. But preferably not someone who will either encourage your attraction or be horrified by it. ;-)

7. Don't put yourself in 'alone situations' with the object of your attraction. In fact, avoiding alone situations with any boy is probably a good idea.

8. Don't ever EVER talk about to the guy you like about the fact that you especially like him.

9. Keep it away from the physical level... no holding hands or kissing or hugging.

10. Be modest... this will help your thoughts to stay pure. Dress modestly, act modestly, and no long glances. A look can be as sensual as a touch, so 'watch your eyes'. :-)

And once again, Don't be freaked out by it! Most of the stuff I've mentioned will come naturally if you don't worry about it. :-)

Well, that's about all I have to say for now... Any thoughts?

The Results of the last Poll

The last poll was "What does the word "Respectful" mean to you?"
Here are the results

Lip service, it's ok to roll your eyes when they aren't looking
4 (12%)
Always being polite
3 (9%)
A face you put on when listening to an adult
2 (6%)
A behavior
7 (22%)
To honor God by honoring those around you
25 (80%)

I'm not really going to comment on this poll, but I would like to say that I believe that Respect is an attitude of your heart, and not a face that you should put on and take off.