Friday, April 13, 2012

Stuck Thinking

Oftentimes, we get stuck in our thinking about who we are. Our thinking, our perceptions of ourselves develop over time, and whether inflated or self-deprecating we usually don't think about how we think. It starts, sometimes, with a habit or as one. We may have factors we consider as "defining" characteristics, and most of us would say there are at least a few we would like to change.

And there is where we get hung up. Change. If we are sunk deep enough in our ways we may come up against a wall that says, "You Can't Change. Change is impossible." Case in point: New Year's resolutions. We start out with a great aim at the thing we want to be but quickly become discouraged or tired at the effort we must maintain, when we discover that change isn't as easy as declaring the intent to do so. Then the next thought comes, "It's not worth it. I can't do it. I can't change."

And it is the truth in a way: we can't change the essential things of ourselves, but we can BE changed - and for the better - with the help, the intervention of God. He enables us to change: we grow and mature over time physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually; he even built it right in to our DNA. In many ways, we can't help but be changed. The little things around us shape us daily, perhaps without us even being aware of it. And of course the major life events are called "life-changing" for a reason.

Small change or big change, positive change comes from Him. Because we are human, we are imperfect, and God is the One who perfects us. But we still have a committment to make to the contract. We have the responsibility to respond - to want to get out of our rut enough to climb up - and to dedicate ourselves to success. The climb may look difficult and the wall steep, but there is help and reassurance.

The first step is to change our thinking. That itself, might be the hardest climb. Stuck thinking is the suction that pulls us back,  the oil or mud that makes the wheels spin in place or sink deeper. Release from stuck thinking is the traction and the leverage we need to start moving. That means letting go of our self-pity, cutting the ropes of doubt and discouragement, and grabbing the line of renewal and hanging on for dear life. Then we start to move.

We can't allow ourselves to lose focus either. When the road forward gets more difficult and we feel the stress of maintaining faith and confidence in ourselves, our focus can get blurry or clouded again. We are vulnerable. We need God. "But He said unto me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness." (2Cor 12:9) When that stuck thinking creeps in, check your mental and spiritual gear, know they are sound and reinforce them. Weariness can camouflage stuck thinking and make it seem realistic. It is not. Constant, conscious, diligent effort allows us to make steady progress forward, even when it is slow. And progress is the only way to prevent decline.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Don't Look Back. Just Walk

Every person has a life walk that they must travel. Some do so with joy, some with fear, some with anticipation, some with dread, some with thanksgiving, some with despair. There are endless ways to describe the attitudes we take on as we continue daily. Regardless of how our attitudes change or why, the most significant change is when the life walk becomes the faith walk.

When your walk becomes one of faith, you realize you never walk alone; you never face the road without support. The walk becomes easier, not because there are less traps and pitfalls, but because Christ is there to pick you up and steer you in the right direction again. When I look back on the road I've come down to this point, I see pot holes and bumps and ruts, and I see that, even though I had Christ's support the whole way, I steered myself into those holes and ruts when I could have avoided them.

But if I only look back, I risk being decieved into thinking that what was then determines who I am and limits what I can be. I risk falling back into the rut I climbed out of. I miss the point of how far I've come. I miss the progress to be made ahead and lose focus on the end goal of being perfected in Christ. If that happens, it's a short drop to thinking I can't be perfected by Christ. But "all things are possible with God." Mark 10:27b "Nothing is impossible with God." Luke 1:37

Your walk forward is a daily progression toward the ideal person you can be. Never forget where you came from, but also remember the life you left behind has to be left behind. Never dwell on who you were; it's just a step away from being that person stuck again and dwelling on who you (think) you are. Remeber how far you've come; step forward, and thank God. Look ahead. See the Sonrise. Chin up! It's time to move on.

(Still in progress.)