Why Risk It?

Why build anything meaningful if there is a chance it will be lost? If you have lived long at all, you have asked why countless times. Life hurts so much when something is taken away from us. It can be a toy, a pet, family member, friend, or any number of things.

It gets to the point where we are afraid to want again. Our fear overpowers our desire to have. When this happens, all hope seems gone. When our hopes and dreams get dashed on life’s rocky areas, it leaves us in dangerously low periods. Thoughts warn at the slightest hint of hope. “Don’t get your hopes up. Remember what happened last time.”

If we remain stuck on these thoughts, life will live out as a tragedy. Living with no expectations seems like the easy way out. Less pain, less sorrow; it really sounds like a great deal. But it is a fool’s hand to play. Life has a way of swinging like a pendulum. If you do nothing, you will feel nothing and experience nothing.

However, when you decide to take a risk and hope, the pendulum starts swinging again. You will feel happiness and sadness. Understand that the more you swing in one direction, you open yourself up to swinging in the opposite direction when the pendulum returns. Basically, the greater the happiness you experience, the greater the pain you may feel if you lose it.

Again, why risk it? The shortest answer is because it is worth it. When you open yourself to experience all life has to offer, you will gain precious memories that will remain long after what created the memories is gone. As hard as memories are to look back on, they help us remember the love that we shared, a priceless gift to cherish for a lifetime. After tragedies occur in your life, take some time to heal. God can give you the strength, comfort, and healing you need in these times. Then embrace hope once more and live a full life!

Something Meaningful

Anything meaningful we get takes great effort and considerable time. All that effort put into it is part of what makes it so special to us. Before you set out for a major purchase, think hard about the cost. The more meaningful it is, the higher the cost. Decide whether you want to pay the price.

Too often we rush into things without considering what it will cost us. Sure, we take into consideration whether we can financially afford something, such as a house or car. But remember, costs are not just monetary. We earn our money through work, in which we are trade our lives for money. In essence, we are giving our life away each time we spend any amount of money. Every payment is not just a dollar sign, it is hours, even days from our lives.

The most precious commodity we have is time. It is the one thing we can never get back or buy more of. It is given to each of us in equal measure. The gap between each of us is in what we decide to do with that time.

There are many intangible but meaningful things that also create value in our lives. Work consumes a large portion due to the amount of time involved every day. Therefore considerable time should be spent examining your work life. But too much work and no play is a life out of balance. We need hobbies that give us play time away from work.

But above and beyond those, think long and hard about your relationships with family, friends, or possibly that special someone. These can be more meaningful than all the other things combined; more so than beautiful houses, nice cars, and all sorts of fanciful things. Relationships cost us in a unique way because they involve aspects of our being. Our thoughts, feelings, and so much more can all be invested to make something worthwhile. They are similar to other areas we build, but relationships have a distinct trait. They are fragile. You can work tirelessly to build one, investing a great deal of time and energy, only to watch it disappear overnight.

There are many reasons why relationships fall apart, but that is not the focus here. The important thing to remember is how special they are and be diligent to maintain them. People will come and go throughout your life. But when you have good people in your life, value them, respect them, and love them. If you do, you will truly create something meaningful.

Storms of Life

Life can hurt and at times, seem unbearable. When we are physically wounded, our miraculous bodies go into healing mode. Cuts begin to heal. Bruises begin to dissipate. Most of our bodies are programmed to fight infections also. Our minds know exactly what to do without requiring thought on our part. Even a small child can recover from an injury without knowing how to explain it. Emergency services, nurses, and physicians all rush to care for injuries to the body. But what about our minds, our souls? These injuries are not tangible but can still be devastating.

Contrary to our bodies, our minds work in a different way. When we are attacked mentally or emotionally, our mind tries to defend itself, but at times does so poorly. We lash out at others because we ourselves are hurt. The more they hurt us, the more we try to hurt them. The desire to get even can be overwhelming. But how does that mindset resolve anything? It only deepens the wounds on both sides.

If you find yourself in a situation in which someone has wronged or hurt you, try to exercise patience, gentleness, and mercy. Extend grace to them as if the roles were reversed and it was you that acted in an inappropriate manner. We all have our wounds. Some will heal completely, never showing they existed. Others will heal but leave scars.

Never look on your scars as something ugly to be despised. Instead, see them for what they truly are. Scars are proof of God’s love. You are a survivor. Look past your pain, struggles, and ultimately your own life, and watch God work through the lives of others. When others see your healed scars in the darkest moments of their lives, you will become a beacon of light and hope for them, living proof that they too can survive the storms of life.

Get it Together

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Ever stop to think how many thoughts we process in a given day? Our minds sift through so much data, every second, from all our senses. With our brains working so hard to process all that information, it is easy to see how a verbal attack in the middle of all this could send us into a state of panic. If another person makes us feel pain, our emotions kick in and set us off. The tendency to overreact just makes matters worse and causes more damage than had we just remained calm.

Managing our mind seems like a daunting task. To many, it is overwhelming for good reason, meaning they never tried to take control of it. Imagine letting a child be raised in a way that they were never told “no”. The child would grow up doing whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, etc. One day when they become an adult, they may not magically conform to the ways of society but instead experience struggle because they had never learned self-discipline.

The same can be said of your mind. Thoughts come at an alarming rate. Do you let the thoughts run around in your mind like a blown up bag of balloons that were suddenly let go all at once? Or do you train your mind how to manage your thoughts? Training is hard work but it pays off, especially when the training is put to the test. A disorganized mind is unreliable and yields undesirable results.

Create habits that will train your mind to reject certain thoughts and build upon others. With more practice, it gets easier to manage your thoughts. Do this long enough and it will change the way you live.

Compared to …?

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Have you ever compared yourself to someone? Perhaps someone better looking, more successful, or that had more money? Of course, we all have. But when we do, it robs us of joy that we would otherwise keep.

Don’t compare yourself with others. Doing so results in either an inflated ego or feeling like less. We are all on different paths in life. Every experience we have adds to the previous ones, further making us more unique individuals. People start out differently, but there is nothing than can change that. We cannot control where we start; only where we finish.

Comparison robs us of the feeling of being adequate. If you have children, be careful of telling them to be more like their brother or sister. People have different gifts. If a person is not athletically gifted, you wouldn’t tell them to be more like a professional athelete. Understand the strengths and weaknesses of people. Build on their strengths and encourage them through their weaknesses.

Know yourself. Take inventory of what you do have. Find out what actions can be taken to bring you closer to what you desire in life. It takes conscious thought, planning, and effort. Find out what works and what doesn’t.

If you want to play better sports, practice more. If you want to be a better musician, play more. If you want to get a raise, be deserving of a raise. Just because you had another birthday this year doesn’t qualify you for increase. Add more value to your life, your relationships, and your employer. Trust that eventually, your efforts will be rewarded. BE the scale to which you measure yourself as a success.

Picture of Life

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If you have been given the artistic ability to draw or paint, then you have the ability to create an image. The more you practice this ability, the better your creation will be. However, some people have the artistic ability of a goose. A goose would simply stomp it’s feet into the paint and tramp around while honking hysterically. Wings would flap wildly and everywhere feathers would stick to the paint. After a final moment of observation, the angry and disgusted goose would poop on his work and head south for the winter.

It’s true; not every picture of life is a masterpiece. Fortunately, in most cases, if the picture we created for our lives is not the way we want it to be, we have the power to change it. You can create your own picture of life, the way you truly want it.

Learn to see the big picture . We see mostly what is, but can you see what can be? Not everyone can see things in a big way because they don’t have the vision for it. This is where we must learn to see beyond what is visible to our eyes. Artists learn to see the vision from within themselves and learn how to transform that vision into a reality for the rest of the world to see.

Be careful where you get your ideas from. Who are you continually listening to? Are they challenging you to grow and achieve, or do they enable you to fail? There will be no shortage of people that will tell you how your life should be. However, they cannot create your picture the way you like. They don’t have access to the internal feedback when you know something isn’t right. The danger is that if you don’t take action to create your life’s picture, chances are you will be subject to living according to someone else’s picture for you.

Keep working hard until the picture you’ve envisioned in your mind matches the one others see in front of you. It takes time to create a masterpiece. How much more so when designing a life. Many people spend more time clipping their nails than they do planning their lives.

Dream big. See the picture clear in your mind, as if it were right in front of you. Build on it. Add to it the details that bring you fulfillment. Then one day, you will sit back and look at your masterpiece and smile. “Magnificent!”

Faithful in Little

broken-car-vehicle-vintage.jpgWhen the amounts are small, people are tempted to be ungrateful. Don’t despise what you have, no matter how insignificant it may seem. Be content with it, not in the sense that it’s all you will ever have, but just that it is what you have right now. Take good care of it. Have you ever given someone a gift and they mistreated it? How did that make you feel? Be a good steward of everything you have, whether it be things or relationships.

Do not wait until you get something better. Let’s say someone has an older car. They may think, well this old clunker isn’t worth much, so why take care of it. Wrong! Clean that junk out of the back. Shine it up. Take care of exactly what it is you have, regardless of how little value it may seem.

Sure, you may not be able to make it look new no matter how hard you try. But at least make it look nice by organizing and cleaning it. I do not understand why but it will make you feel better. A secondary benefit will be a less cluttered mind. When everything around you is in disarray, typically your mind will be also.

We are all creatures of habit. Creating good habits will help your things last longer. The temptation is to let things go by procrastinating. By allowing this behavior, everything will be subjected to more extreme conditions. Just look at the car at the beginning. This type of damage did not happen overnight. Still finding it hard to believe? Look at an abandoned house. All kinds of things can happen that degrade the value of the house. If the lawn is not maintained, pests of all kinds may move in – mice, insects, snakes, etc. Mice can eat up the wiring. Termite infestations can destroy the integrity of the building. Weeds and vines grow all over the house and seemingly take over.

It’s a terrible kind of amazing what can happen when we don’t take care of our business. So handle your business! Be faithful in what you have now and you will be prepared for the day when better things come your way.