60: Double Whammy
If you are still functioning, you have endured one of the most difficult seasons of the year, Christmas and New Years. You have successfully run the gauntlet of photoshopped Christmas cards revealing how wonderful they look. But the result is that it makes us think how poorly our own family stacks up next to all those well-dressed families with their list of accomplishments in the “family newsletter”.
And you have made it through the multitude of New Year’s resolutions. From reading the Bible, losing a few pounds, spending more time with family, to exercising more, these are admirable activities. But whether we do them or not, they make us feel that we are not adequate.
On top of that, many of us are fed a steady diet of what we should be doing to improve our spiritual life from the pulpit. We should spend more time in the bible, give more, pray more, serve more, volunteer more. Instead of focusing on who we are in Christ, we are exhorted to try harder.
There is also the “If only” list. If only I was married, or had a different job, or had a new car, or exercised more, or could shed a few pounds. Between the litany of our shortcomings and longings, many of us exist in a state of semi-condemnation where we never feel like we measure up or have enough, especially in January.
Instead of doing something more, here is my suggestion. How about each of us reading Romans 8:1 every morning to find our way through the longing, wanting, and condemnation, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Then when that untruth has been slain, focus on what we do have.
One of the exercises I have been doing this past year is assembling lists of passages that help me to focus on what God has done for me, which fosters thankfulness and contentment. I have a few of these lists that I read regularly:
Paul learned a great lesson in his life, how to be content with what he did have instead of wanting what he didn’t possess. Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state(or situation) I am, therein to be content.
One of the greatest promises in scripture has to do with the love of money. We often quote the last portion of the verse, but forget the context of the whole passage. Hebrews 13:5 “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’“
(You might also be edified by 1 Timothy 6:6-9 and Proverbs 30:8)
I have always been susceptible to condemnation. But thank God, I am learning to be content, grateful, and thankful. May you each have a blessed winter, basking in God’s provision and goodness,
Image by Olga Caprotti, via Flickr.