Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Changing-my-focus-and-thinking of you...

Are we getters or givers?
Do we wake up to bless or be blessed?
What's sitting at our bottom line?
Are we going through the motions of just another day? Silently working to get, do, have, become what we think matters most. 

Is today and tomorrow about us and ours?
Or ------- is it about Him and them?

Long ago a friend told me, “donna when you are struggling (over hurts of the heart) the best solution is to turn it outward. Turn your eyes and your heart to look in front of you and SEE someone else. Don't look in the mirror. Don't look inside yourself. Just fix the eyes of your heart on the someone God brings in front of you ----- and then do something about what He lets you see.”
It might look like a plate of cookies or a note, it might be an invitation to dinner, it might be a text or a call. It might be a prayer. A real, heartfelt, changing-my-focus-and-thinking-of-you prayer. It might be that the simple act of praying for someone is the best thing you can do for them (and oddly enough for yourself too). It's one of those “double portion things”; your giving-out gives a good splash back.

But it all revolves around what we choose to do with “self”.
Do we think more about ourselves and our wants than we do of the other person and theirs?

Do we even pause to honestly assess this part of our lives?

Jesus said we should consider the interests of others, their needs, their pain. We should also care for ourselves, we are not told to ignore our own selves. (Philippians 2:4)
But the order is crucial.
If we “look to our own interests” first, we are compelled to linger at that level. “I” is too powerful, it demands much and is rarely fully satisfied.
The One who made us knows. We are selfish and self-centered by nature. So He asks us to consider others, look to the interests of others, care-----for------others.

So do we?

In the mornings when we open our eyes, what are our first thoughts? Do they go to others? Or do they begin with “I”? What I need to accomplish, what I want to get, where I need to go?
Or are our first thoughts “help them Lord, help me Lord”... remembering that He knows the plans HE has for us in the day ahead. He knows what opportunities will stand in front of us. He also knows what hindrances will come. 
And sometimes we are our own greatest hindrance.

Our insides are so bare in those sunrise moments. We haven't had time to cover them up yet.

And if we don't choose well at the beginning, how can we imagine a good end?

Recently i asked someone, “Do you wake up to be a blessing or do you wake up looking to be blessed?”
...and the question sat long in the air between us.
Blessed by God yes, but i wasn't talking about that.
Do we wake up wondering in the corners of our minds who might do what for me today?
The old phrase, “What's in it for me”, becomes the wake up revelry for the person whose self has become too important.

Self wakes up wanting more.
It's appetite is insatiable.
New carpet today only leads to new drapes that then must have new a couch and then certainly a rug.
The new fishing pole needs a better tackle box, and if I'm going to do this right, a new boat...
Taking better care of myself means a gym membership which requires new gym clothes and then who could bear to look at those spider veins on my legs, so I might as well get those fixed, and while I'm at it shouldn't I just go ahead and get that tummy tucked too.(Ignoring the fact that the money spent on self-image alone could make a life-difference for those who will never need a tummy tuck because their stomachs stay empty day in and day out --- oh GOD!)
After all, we work hard right? We've earned it. You only live once and someday we'll wonder why we didn't get it while the gettin' was good.
Oh Lord ---
what are we thinking?!!!!

We forget that someday we will wonder about the choices we will make today.
We will --- wonder...
What of the mother whose daughter is watching, silently ---- learning from what she sees more than what she's told.
A dear friend recently shared her heartbreak after chauffeuring a group of young teen girls around for a weekend of church activities. The car fairly vibrated with giggles and chatter. One topic led to another until all were in the air. And my friend was grieved to hear the jibber-jabber over the recent release of a movie that twists and contorts intimacy. i don't even want to type the title here, but sadly most readers will know of the movie the girls were talking of. They were curious, they had heard others talk about it. Their mothers had talked with friends about it, in ways that didn't turn the girls from it, but instead drew them towards the dark mystery. Mothers speaking openly of their own fantasized intrigue only spoon fed their daughters an invitation to darkness. Mothers, thinking of themselves and their dissatisfaction, but forgetting the beautiful young eyes watching them and listening to every word.
Mothers who have perhaps slept with a self-absorbed husband who cared more about himself than the one in his arms, have perhaps responded with their own self-absorbed desires, and would consider reading a book or watching a movie to spice up their bedroom moments (with their husband or...) have too carelessly guided their girls to become curious to see something that is hell's best shot at self-consumption. The destroying of another in order to feed the beast of self.
Careless words spoken by mothers who are teaching those watching.

Someday we will realize the impact our choices had on those around us,
and on ourselves,
and on the work of Heaven.

'Cause yes, the work of Heaven or the work of hell ----- they are both watchful for moments to flow through us to those in front of us.

But we forget.
Jesus said it clear ---- “Thy Kingdom come, they will be done.”
The Kingdom of Heaven is to come here, 
to be with us now, 
and that happens when the Father's will is being done ------- here ------- now.
I'm not speaking of the eternity we are promised in Heaven (for those of us who believe).
I'm speaking of the work of Heaven now ---- that opens hands/hearts towards the Heaven to come.

We are not actually wired to wake up thinking this way. If we were, it would be automatically accomplished in each of us, everyday, and life would be sweeter to drink.

Instead, it is a choice. It's something we are given the chance to do. We can open our eyes and choose to think of others, love God, live well, bring laughter, think with purpose on how to live today so that tomorrow is set up for beauty and goodness.
The enemy of our Lord knows this full well. Even if we choose to ignore or overlook it. He doesn't.
And his dark scheme is to distract us in any-every way possible. One of his favorite tools to distract us, is the “self” that we live with. If he can just keep us focused on ourselves, our wants, our “needs”, our desires, our image, our happiness, our sorrow, our emotions, our hurts... well then, he's got us beaten before we even get out of bed in the morning.
If we focus on self -------------------------- well then, Heaven won't be flowing through us that day.

But he knows we are clever enough to catch on to his dark plan eventually.
In those moments when we wonder why our friends (the real ones) aren't coming around anymore, or our kids don't linger once they're able to stand alone, or the one we are married to finds other places they need to be, or the earthly beauties around us seem lost and unfocused. Or when something is said or read or sung that gives us pause, and we begin to wonder... why do i feel so empty and alone?
It's then he will slide in the thoughts of “self” in another frame ----- “look at all you've done..., you're a good person, you do this and this and this..., you can't do 'that', don't feel badly, after all you can only do so much...”
-----and we are unknowingly pacified to not realize how self-absorbed we truly are and how much is being lost in that place of self-worship.

Erik Erikson speaks of the last stage of human development as being the time in life when we face either despair or ego-integrity. Ego-integrity means the acceptance of life at the approach of the winter of our lives. When we face the victories and the defeats and allow ourselves no excuses or explanations. We see the true value of what we have accomplished and the grave loss of what we have not. Those last days, those sunset years, when we no longer have the energy or time to blame others or give justification for what we did or did not do. Because in those last days, we know. We know what we've really lived for.
Those who have lived with integrity and life-giving ways, they can turn to the face of impending death and smile.
But those who have lived for “self”, know they've wasted the thousands of sunrises and overlooked the beautiful sunsets, and wrestled with life around them to give them what they wanted, and in the end, it wasn't enough and it only has left a shadow of failure. The money, the house, the clothes, the status ----- none of it matters when those last breathing moments come.

But what we've done for others ---- how we've loved others ---- why we've loved others ---- when and where and how often we've loved others ------ and the warmth of love-glow it showers back on us, those are the moments that will make us smile as we breathe our last earth-air.

If our outflow to others is rich from the Heaven-flow in us ----------- then God waters our garden so that others can have flowers aplenty on their tables. (and maybe food too)

Are we getters or givers?
Do we wake up to bless or be blessed?
What's sitting at our bottom line?
Are we living today in ways that will give us the ability to truly smile when our last words come and our last breath goes out of us?

We get to choose ---- today.
Self MUST decrease ----- He must increase ------ it's a choice ------
a choice that will bring more life, more satisfaction, more peace and good ---- 
than the self-inside could ever dream of.

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