"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." - Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
Happy New Year! Or is it?
If the Christmas season is "the happiest time of the year" then is it any wonder that after all the tinsel and glittering decorations are packed back up in the attic (except in my house, of course, where we are total slowpokes about leaving the holiday season behind), there seems to be a period of letdown?
Yes, here we are in January, and 'tis the season to work on those resolutions. Whether you're trying to lose weight or get organized, this time of the year can just feel hard.
Gone are the holiday parties. Now it's time to work off the 10 pounds you put on while noshing on all that fabulous food consumed at them. Forget the tinsel and bows around the Christmas tree. Now you're trying to find a place to put it all, as you search for those financial files underneath the rolls of wrapping paper strewn across your office.
If you're in the northern hemisphere, it's cold and wintry, and the lack of sunlight may add to the creeping feeling of depression. If you're living on the south side of the globe, like my good friends down in Australia, you're baking in the summer heat. And if you reside in the United States, well, we are living in the midst of one of the most contentious presidential transitions in our history, which has added even more anxiety into our stress-filled lives. Joy to the world...not!
You can't control your circumstances, but you can control your attitude.
"So why bring up all of this negative stuff, if you're trying to offer hope for the new year?" you may ask. Good question.
The answer is simple: bad stuff happens. Period. Now, what are you going to do about it?
I spend a lot of time on social media and watching the news (as a writer, it's a professional hazard I can't avoid) and I have noticed that this year, in particular, people are just waiting to pounce on anything or anyone they can blame or criticize. It's as if they are addicted to unhappiness. If there isn't something to gripe about, they will find something. Anything. And God help you if you happen to be in their path.
So, I have to ask myself...what's their problem? Er, OK, perhaps I need to state that differently. What is OUR problem?
We spend the Christmas season singing carols about Jesus in the manger "so meek and mild" and in a few months, at Easter, will talk about how He went humbly to the cross. And yet, in between His birth and death (and resurrection), Jesus went through a lot! He got hungry and tired. He was criticized and belittled. He saw injustices that made Him angry. He lost a close friend to betrayal. And those are just a few of the stories we know of.
What we have to look at is how Jesus handled all of the "stuff" in His life. When he felt disappointed, hurt or angry, what did He do with it? If we look at the Gospels, it is clear: Jesus dealt with His feelings, took them to the Father, and then moved on.
Jesus did not allow negativity to cast a shadow over His life, or to stop Him from fulfilling Him from His purpose of loving, healing, teaching and ultimately saving those around Him. He came to illuminate a dark world, and even though He was surrounded by darkness, He did not allow it to snuff out the light He came to share.
Feel your feelings, but be careful how you handle them
Psalm 4:4 is an interesting verse. The New King James Version says, "Be angry, and do not sin." Some preachers have said that anger is a sin. According to the Bible, it isn't. Even Jesus got angry sometimes, and He lived a perfect, sinless life. This is a warning not about having negative feelings, but rather, some stern advice on how to handle them.
The next part of the verse says "Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still." That last part reminds me of another Bible verse that says "Be still, and know I am God." (Psalm 46:10)
Sure enough, The Message translation of Psalm 4:4-5 reads "Complain if you must, but don’t lash out. Keep your mouth shut, and let your heart do the talking. Build your case before God and wait for his verdict."
In other words, if you are angry or upset (frustrated, aggravated, or stressed out) about something, take your feelings to God and then let it go. Holding onto resentment will only hurt you, and lashing out towards someone else may have irreversible consequences for your relationship with them.
Leave the issue with God and let Him deal with it instead. Set some boundaries with those who hurt you, handle things is a calm and respectful manner, and let God handle the results. Forgive and give grace to others as He has given grace to you. This is the only way you're going to be able to live out what Romans 12:18 says "If at all possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."
Having a hard time letting it go? Try this.
If you've read this far and you're saying, "Well, great. I'm supposed to 'let go and let God'...but how can I actually change how I'm feeling?" I know, you're really angry, frustrated, upset beyond belief, or even disgusted. You want to vent. I get it. I really do.
Maybe today, you're upset that your chronic illness has taken away the ability to do what you love. Perhaps the pain is unending. Maybe you're mad at yourself for a mistake you've made or because no matter what you try, you just can't seem to lose those extra pounds you're carrying. Or you're trying to kick that addiction, and yet it always seems to be kicking you back. Maybe you're angry at a friend, frustrated with a boss, or disgusted by a political party. I get it. But all the lashing out, online or off, won't change things.
Here is what Scripture tells us, when our "stinking thinking" gets the best of us: "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." (Philippians 4:8)
Are you trusting in God for your situation? Then meditate on how good He is. GOD is true, GOD is noble, GOD is right, pure, lovely and admirable. He can be counted on to handle your situation.
The Lord also wants you to find the positive in whatever, or whomever, you are facing today. Upset with yourself? Find something true and lovely and admirable about yourself, and focus on that. The same thing goes toward your attitude with others. In any situation, and in any person, you can always find something positive. Focus on that, while you wait for God to act.
Peace, joy and love to you today.
Quit Yer Bellyachin' originally appeared on Spring Sight blog, by Linda W. Perkins. Click here for more posts. Get even more encouragement by following me on Facebook and Twitter.
Many of Spring Sight's posts can also be found each week on Crystal Storms' Thoughtful Thursday, Kelly Balarie's #RaRaLinkUp, Holly Barrett's Testimony Tuesday, Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart, and Woman to Woman's Word Filled Wednesday. I also link up often with Jennifer Dukes Lee and Dawn at Journeys in Grace, as well as with Lori Schumaker.
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