I thought I was done with my series on contentment that begins here, but the Lord had more to say to me about it.
I just returned from a homeschool speech and debate tournament with my oldest son. How strange it is to watch your child agonize over others’ evaluations of him as you once did. I remember the feelings of frustration I had in being praised and criticized for the very same aspect of my speeches. I remember feeling like I wasn’t as good as my teammates who had taken home trophies when I did not. I remember feeling so low at times that I considered quitting.
Don’t get me wrong. I think speech competition (and even the constructive criticism I received) prepared me for what I do today as a speaker. I was driven to improve and I learned to use discernment about the feedback I received. (Just because a judge says it, doesn’t make it so.) But competition can also confuse us; I know it does me.
When I watch my son debate, I just think, “Wow!” I am unable to be objective about how his speaking skills compare to others’, because I love him so much. To me, he isn’t better, just beloved.
One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. – John 13:23
I have heard a number of teachings on John’s reference to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Most of them emphasized that Jesus spent more time with John and as a result, was closer to him. I can’t deny that. But I don’t think that John was emphasizing that he was better, just beloved. The most amazing thing about Jesus for John was that He loved him.
When I am tempted to be discontented about not being better or my children not comparing to others, I want to remember this: I am the disciple that Jesus loves. When He looks at me, He sees what I see when I look at my son. Wow.
What do you think? Does Jesus spend time considering which of us is better?
Maybe, like me, you have so many reasons to be joyful, but it seems that someone or something seems to run off with this spiritual treasure. What can we do to stop 'em from stealing our joy?
- Quit doing business with them. In our local news lately have been reports of home invasions that strike fear in the hearts of neighbors. The fact that the criminals were doing business with the victim makes everyone feel a little bit more at ease. We can feel safer emotionally by choosing not to do business with people who attack us verbally or physically or who only make emotional withdrawals, never deposits.
- Claim your right to the joy. Some theft victims are reluctant to press charges because they feel guilty for having so much. We are never to feel guilt for having joy, even if others are depressed. We may not be able to share our joy, but we can share its Source.
- Stop stealing from yourself. I've had my share of things stolen, but I've robbed myself of more than any thief has. I haven't taken care of my belongings and they've been misplaced or destroyed. In the same way, we can steal our own joy by not taking care of ourselves. Joy is harder to come by when we don't have optimal sleep, nutrition, or exercise.
- Use a security system. Most of the times I've been robbed have been when I've left a car door unlocked or left my valuables in plain sight. We don't have to hide from others to keep our joy, but we do need a security system. God's Word is not only an inexhaustible source of joy, but it's a weapon we can use to ward off the lies the con men use to get access to our treasure. The Bible is the best security system there is, but even it won't be effective if we keep letting the thieves in the door through the media we take in.
Have you found any other ways of keeping your joy, short of gun ownership? 😉
You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. (Hebrews 10:34)
Tonight I watched Game 6 of the World Series in which Cardinals player, David Freese, dropped an easy pop fly that one of my kids could have caught. He choked. In front of an audience of millions.
My heart went out to him. I've been there. Almost literally! I was a catcher in a girls' softball championship tournament and dropped an easy pop fly. I think more than once! Fortunately I don't remember that little detail. But I'll never forget the sick feeling in my stomach, the shame, and the self-loathing.
The game (in case you weren't watching) looked like a sure loss for the Cardinals because David Freese's wasn't the only error. My husband was practically snoring in the ninth inning. We both thought, "We messed up; it's over."
But miracle of miracles, the Cardinals' hopes were resuscitated with a last-minute hit from none other than David Freese. Much too soon, that hit seemed for naught because once again the rival Rangers were up two runs. We figured we had a nice rally, but the night would end in defeat. Instead, in extra innings, home boy David Freese hit a home run to end the game.
Suddenly, David who we expected to be despised and dejected when the game was over, was heralded as a champion. When he was interviewed afterward, David was able to laugh about "looking like an idiot" because he had been redeemed. He explained the Cardinals' unlikely victory by crediting his coach, Tony LaRussa. David said, "He knows what he's doing."
What a thrill this game was, not just because it was a nail biter and my team won, but because we saw our lives being played out on that field. We're all chokers like David. While we expect to be despised and rejected for looking like idiots, we'll be redeemed champions when the game's over. After all, we have a Coach who "knows what He's doing."
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:37)
I went to the funeral of my husband's beloved uncle today. And I was surprised.
No one mentioned his weight, his body fat percentage, his golf handicap, his IQ, his investment return, Amazon ranking, his Klout score, number of Facebook friends, followers, or blog page views.
They did mention how many grandchildren he had, but really the only impressive statistic was 69–the number of years he was married to the same woman. Despite this veritable dearth of evidence of greatness, people really seemed to have loved him.
Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Luke 12:7)