So Long, Regrets!

I’ve been struggling a lot since we moved here with my regrets, particularly with taking five years off to write. The books haven’t been selling well and now that I’m looking for a job, every recruiter is telling me that I’m going to have to restart my career, that my five years of experience is almost worthless right now. It’s very disheartening to hear that I am competing essentially with college grads instead of with people who have five or even two or three years of experience.

I was especially regretting it tonight after hearing it again from a recruiter. It made me wish I’d never written at all. Yet my wife (oh, is she patient with me!) reminded me that had I not written the book, I wouldn’t have learned the lessons that have changed my life so much for the better (even though there is and likely always will be work to do on that front). I may not have gone to Colorado Springs at all and, even if I had, she probably wouldn’t have been interested in a financial analyst or accountant. God had me write, maybe just to change me, maybe just to get her, but He had me do it, knowing full well what would happen because of it.

God has a plan, and for now, that plan looks to include a low-level job for me. I don’t know how long I’ll be in it or how He’ll use it, but I think the purpose is to teach me the lesson that my treasures are not supposed to be built up on earth. I’m supposed to worry more about serving Him and His kingdom than serving Leah and our future children.

I wish I could finally pass this test, but I’m getting closer. Closer to taking the leap of faith that God needs me to take if He’s truly going to use me.

The Frog and the Hot Water

If you take a frog and drop it into a pot of boiling water, the frog will immediately jump out. The situation it’s in is so uncomfortable and got that way so quickly that jumping out is a natural reaction. If you drop the frog in cool water, however, and slowly heat the water to boiling, the frog will sit there contentedly until it dies.

It sounds ridiculous, but most of us aren’t really that different. Think of a situation in your life that, if you could wave a magic wand and change it, you would. How did it get to be like this? In most cases, it probably wasn’t overnight. Perhaps you can’t even pinpoint when or how it began. You just know you’re dissatisfied.

If Queen Elizabeth were to wake up one morning to find herself living in a farmhouse in Kansas, she’d probably freak out a bit. At the very least, she’d be greatly confused and seek to change her situation immediately. For someone who graduated college, intent to make their mark on the world, but got roped into managing the family farm when their dad got too old or who married a farmer, the change was a lot subtler. That person would wake up at home and just wonder how they got so far from their dreams.

Our situations are rarely the result of instant changes. Even if your spouse leaves you, there were probably warning signs beforehand. Somewhere along the way, he or she (and probably both of you) became increasingly dissatisfied until the other person could take it no longer and left.

Likewise, it’s unreasonable to expect that our positive changes are going to instantly transform our lives. We have to change our habits, our thought patterns, and most of all, our hearts. This takes a lot of work.

Research shows that it takes 30 days to form new habits. Changing thought patterns can take longer, especially if they’re ingrained. Changing your heart can take years.

If you’re looking for a quick fix to your problems, it might be best to question how much that fix would actually help. It might change your situation, but that would be temporary if your heart and thoughts don’t change, too. It is better to find where your particular situation started and think of how to go about changing it, knowing at the onset that it will likely take months of hard work before you start getting the results you want. First, though, question whether you want to remain in this water as it slowly heats up.

Gandhi and the Christians

Gandhi used to read the Bible daily. He highly admired Jesus and tried to follow His teachings. One day, he was asked why, if he liked Jesus so much, he didn’t become a Christian. Gandhi’s answer was simple: “Christians.”

When he was studying in Great Britain, he got to know many people who claimed to be Christians, but were that in name only. They didn’t live as Christ lived. I don’t know all the things he saw them doing, but it was enough to make him not want to be a Christian. Continue reading

Why Me?

One of the most common objections I’ve heard to Christianity is that if God really loved us, why would He let bad things happen to us? It’s a question that I struggled with for some time, but here are the reasons I found:

1. If becoming a Christian made your life perfect, everyone would be a Christian, but few would be for the right reasons. God doesn’t want us to come to Him solely for what we can get from Him. He wants to be our source, yes, but He wants us to love Him more than His blessings. If we never needed anything, we couldn’t appreciate fully how much He’s done for us. There would also be no need for faith and no reason to draw closer to Him. He is the prize, not perfection in our daily lives. Continue reading

Memory Loss

Goldfish have incredibly short memories, around three seconds. It must be wonderful for the extroverted goldfish; they get to meet new fish all the time. But it would be hard for them to have faith in anything. After all, they wouldn’t remember having any experience. 

Faith is what enables our relationships to truly work. You wouldn’t have a relationship with someone if you believed they were out to hurt you. Whether it’s a business partnership, dating relationship, or friendship, you’d walk away. You need faith that these people have your best interests in mind or, at least, are not out to get you for you to be close to them. 

God wants you to have faith in Him for several reasons: Continue reading

Day by Day

I’m reading through the Bible again and am in the last part of Exodus, where God starts giving Moses instructions for building the Tabernacle and the priest’s robes and for giving sacrifices. To be honest, it’s painfully boring to me, but that doesn’t mean it is without instruction. One thing that stuck out to me today is that the priests were to eat from what was sacrificed. They were not to be tending their own flocks or threshing wheat from their own fields, but they were fed by the people. Leftovers were to be burned rather than left until the morning. In other words, if there was no sacrifice, the priests would go hungry.

Another thing that jumped out was that everyone else is commanded to take the Sabbath off, but the priests are commanded to sacrifice every day. In other words, they are working for God doing what He commanded them specifically to do.

Even though the Israelites were told to give sacrifices for a variety of reasons, making the business of atoning for sin very costly, God provided for them so that they didn’t have the excuse of being too poor. God also provided enough so that the priests didn’t go hungry, either. When they walked according to God’s commandments, God provided for them.

They had to walk daily according to His commands, though. If the priests decided to take a day off or if the rest of the tribes decided to stay home and watch the Super Bowl rather than bring a sacrifice, the priests would have nothing to eat. The priests had to daily trust God to provide, but also had to daily follow Him to receive that blessing.

I’m getting married soon, and one of the things that has struck me about self-confidence is just how difficult it is to truly get into one’s heart. My fiancee was initially drawn to me because she read my book, Your True Value, and agreed with much of it. Despite having written a book on the topic and feeling called to share this message, I still occasionally get caught up in getting my value from being with her or from accomplishments or how sales are going. She still tends to get her value from the little boys she watches, from me, and from her family. The fault for both of these, as the leader of the relationship, is largely mine, for true Christian confidence has not been a daily or even near-daily focus. We’ve gone weeks at a time without it really coming up. Those weeks are when our confidence is most likely to slip back into the old ways.

Your value is not something that you have to earn. You can’t do a thing to raise or lower it. Your confidence, however, needs to be worked on daily. You need to remind yourself that you are a son or daughter of God, that your value is set and eternal and higher than you could ever hope to get it by your own works. You need to remember that others are valued just as highly by God and so you are equal with everyone, neither more nor less valuable. Every day.

My challenge to you this week is to remind yourself of your value every day. This is not positive self-affirmation in the sense that you’re saying, as Bob did in What About Bob?, “I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful,” over and over or telling yourself you can conquer any challenge, but rather a reminder that your true value has nothing to do with anything you’ve done and everything to do with what He’s done. At the end of a week of doing this, evaluate how you feel about yourself, others, and God. If you’re willing, please write your story here. I’d love to hear back from you. 🙂