"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me ~ everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you."
The holidays seem to have a way of bringing out the best and the worst in people. This time of year can draw family and friends closer together; it can also create a wedge between people. Expectations are high. We want everything to be perfect. With such a huge build-up, it's no wonder there isn't a fallout or two along the way. Emotions seem to run stronger during this season. Elation and excitement can be replaced by disappointment and depression in a heatbeat.
Is there any family that hasn't felt the strain in one way or another? Afterall, we are a bunch of imperfect people trying to create the perfect holiday. Feelings get hurt, often unintentionally. Things get said in frustration that aren't really meant. And bridges get burned in the process, bridges that took years and years to build.
Here's what I am learning ~ people will let you down. It's how we respond that counts. We cannot change other people's behavior, but we can change how we think about them. The fact is that, regardless of the season, people will disappoint us...anger us...upset us. If we are honest about it, everyone falls short of who we want them to be and how we want them to act. But the same holds true for us. We let others down...we disappoint them...we anger and upset them. We fall short of who they want us to be and how they want us to act.
Let's get real ~ we make a choice when we place our thoughts onto the things in other people that upset us. Instead, we could choose to think about all the good that resides in them ~ how they've blessed us...the warm memories we have shared...the strengths and gifts they possess. What a shame to waste one moment of our precious time mulling over the negative stuff. It only weighs us down, and it clouds our vision of all the positives that we could be enjoying.
I think the same holds true with God. He is who He is ~ good, loving, holy, all-powerful, all-knowing, wise, and present ~ regardless of how we choose to think about Him. Isn't it better to look at all the beauty and majesty of God rather than distorting who He really is with our negative, skewed thoughts about Him? If we think of Him as harsh, cold, elusive, uncaring, rigid, uninvolved, a kill-joy ~ it's really ourselves that we are cheating, especially because He is none of these things! We can rob ourselves of the most important relationship known to man ~ with the King of kings, and the Lord of lords, simply because of how we choose to think about Him.
I have had relationships suffer because I have allowed negative thoughts to marinade in my mind about other people. I have also dulled my relationship with God in the same way at times. But I can stop this pattern and look at the good..the positive...the praise-worthy...the beautiful, and celebrate and embrace these dear people and my Heavenly Father. It's my choice. How much better it is to dwell on the good stuff! When I do, life is so much sweeter and richer. And I can't help but smile.
"If you don't like something change it; if you can't change it, change the way you think about it."
"The only people who find what they are looking for in life are the fault finders."
"I don't like that man. I must get to know him better."