I'm not even sure how to start this one off.
So, I guess I will take it back to almost a year ago when I was spending some time with a friend.
Our kids were in and out of the house, up and down the stairs, on and off the potty yet, for some reason that day, we didn't seem to mind at all. Our conversation was full of good nuggets and lots of yummy coffee. Coffee is always a good thing to add to conversations around here. Just makes things better.
Anyhow, just as we'd realized our precious time was coming to a close, I took a deep breath and said, "We are so rich.".
I honestly don't know where it came from. Can I be completely candid with you? Until a few months back I would never have even thought to let something like this come out of my mouth.
I mean, I've had moments here and there where I've been thankful for things but most of the time I lived my life so caught up in the little details that really didn't matter I couldn't ever really focus on the big picture.
The kids need this. I serve all day. We're pulled in 50 different directions. I am so tired. I don't feel like doing that. Can I get a break? Can someone do something for me?
Blah. Blah. Blah.
We don't mean to do it but we all, at some point in our day to day lives, respond in this way.
While some of these thoughts may never make it to our mouths, we can sometimes rehearse them over and over again in our hearts.
A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.
Whoa. That's heavy. Right?
Well, while the thought of knowing that the things we say can be directly related to the state of our hearts, it brings great delight to know that God is in the business of giving us new ones.
I tend to believe that my thoughts often line up with my heart as well.
When thinking of what we have and what we do not have it really is a matter of perspective, a change of heart and what we allow our minds to focus on that will lead us down an unhealthy path of discontentment or allow us to focus on the many amazing people and circumstances God has given to us or placed us in.
I'm not saying it's the easiest thing in the world, especially when we've practiced the opposite for so long. However, just like any other muscle in our bodies the heart can be strengthened and become stronger when we put qualities like gratitude and thanksgiving to practice.
Can I just say, BTW...I'm not just preaching this at you. I'm right here in the middle of this thing with you. We bombard ourselves with media and images and fill our minds and hearts with the desires of others' ultimately unknowingly becoming numb and rejecting the desires and plan of our Creator. This is just an opportunity for us to serve notice to oursSELVES that we are ready to live a more fulfilled life and use the gifts that God has given us to live in freedom and call purpose out in others. This heart check, if you will, is just another step to living in THAT freedom.
With that being said, here are a few ways I am learning to live in the moments and begin to foster an environment where, from the inside-out.
1. CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE.
And I don't just mean the way you think about things. I know it sounds pretty blunt and straight forward but it's true. How many times have you left the comfort of your home or neighborhood to volunteer with or give your time to those living in situations or have lifestyles culturally perceived as less fortunate to return to yours with a new lease on life? I get it, we all want to provide good things, safe homes and neighborhoods and an amazing life for our kids but what's any of that really mean if we don't give them a worldview of just how amazing God is in not just our lives but others' and how He wants to us ALL of us to better one another? It's so much easier to focus on what you don't have when you stay in your own little bubble.
2. THINK THANKFUL. WRITE THANKFUL.
Just as the scripture says, what our hearts store, our mouths speak. Many times the heart and the head are one in the same. I want to practice, in my mind, being thankful. I want to rehearse the goodness of God in my life over and over again. I want my children to hear me saying how amazed I am at the goodness of God in our lives and not just hear me say it but feel me mean it.
Psalm 27:13 I remain confident in this, I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
It's a promise. His goodness surrounds us, we need only open our eyes, our minds, our hearts to seeing it around us.
Take some time daily, weekly, whenever...but be purposeful about tuning your heart and mind to rehearsing gratitude in the margins of your bible or in a journal on your bedside. Keep it in your car when the moment hits you. The more we exercise the muscle of thankfulness, the more it becomes our knee-jerk reaction to situations and thoughts that come our way.
3. OPEN UP YOUR LIFE.
I guess number two and three kind of go hand in hand but how amazing is life when we open it up to those around us? I don't think I can really say it any better than Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:11-13 (MSG):
Dear, dear Corinthians, I can't tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn't fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren't small, but you're living them in a small way. I'm speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!
This is honestly one of my most favorite scriptures. I don't know about you when you read it but I almost take it as a challenge. A "taste and see that the Lord is good" kind of challenge.
We are not called to live the small lives that are many times a result of unhealthy thought patterns. These thought patterns develop many times as a result of negative thinking about who we are but where we are in our careers, families, relationships, etc. We fence ourselves in with every single negative thought that we allow to control us.
We are rich, indeed:
Our lives are full of His goodness, His grace, His mercy.
Our hearts are full of His praise.
Our moments are filled with laughter and our time and thoughts filled not with the mundane but with the overwhelming sense of not just the richness of our lives but the fullness and richness that living a life in Him and with Him brings.