10 lessons life has taught me – Lesson 2

Lesson 2 – Your degree of happiness in life is up to you

While I haven’t always recognized it, for many years now I have realized that the life we have is a precious gift.

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Unrealistic expectations

Once upon a time, I had this idea that other people were responsible for my happiness. I had expected my life to be a real-life fairytale – and it wasn’t…  Sometimes it felt like my life was a nightmare… until I began to understand that most of my unhappiness came from the consequences of choices “I” had made – people had tried to warn me, but I hadn’t listened. I wanted to do things “my way.” The rest of my unhappiness came from my unrealistic expectations that life “should be” an idealistic fairytale – my partner should idolize me and treat me like a princess, people should always be nice to me and everything should go well for me.

The blame game

I wasted many years feeling badly done by and blaming others for my unhappy situation. I also used to feel a great deal of annoyance at the people I love most when they didn’t act like I thought they should or whatever. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I spent years regretting and stewing over things and blaming other people for my unhappiness.  Until at some point, God began to speak to my heart and I began to recognize the preciousness and fragility of life.

Our precious family & friends

I now know that the people we have around us are precious gifts from God and we have no right to get annoyed when things don’t go our way. We need to have patience at times, we need to have respect at times and sometimes we need to turn a blind eye – we don’t really know where they’ve been, the hardships or sorrow they have faced. They, in fact, like us, are not perfect. We are all struggling to make our way down the path of life – we all struggle sometimes, we all fall sometimes, we are all broken sometimes…

We are all in the same boat

At this point, I pondered these things, and thought, “What right do I have to get annoyed, criticize, judge… any of these people? I have probably annoyed them by the things I do, heck, I’m so far from being perfect myself…” I’m sure God was talking to me and trying to show me how much he puts up with from each of us… and he asks us to show that same compassion and forgiveness to others, that he shows to us.

Love & compassion

I have become so much more aware that oftentimes the very things I used to judge and criticize in others, I have done myself. And God had forgiven me! I find I consider a lot more now, before I think ill of a person. I ask myself if I have done this very thing or something similar? I don’t want God to judge me, therefore, I think more carefully before I criticize anyone else Jesus said the same measure you use to judge others, he will use to judge you. In fact, I try to put myself in their shoes to see if I can understand why they may have acted in that way. I am becoming much kinder and much slower to judge or criticize others as I get older, because I truly want my gracious God to show grace and mercy to me.

It’s up to me

Well, now I understand that God has given me a precious gift – my life – and that it’s up to me to choose my attitude to life. No-one else is to blame if I am unhappy, no-one else is responsible for my happiness. It’s up to me, and I choose to be happy! I choose to appreciate the good things in life and precious people God has placed in my wonderful life

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Getting a life 2: In pursuit of God (b)

In search of truth

Following on from my blog, In pursuit of God (a), I was in my late 20s with 2 children in school, one in pre-school and a 2-year old at home. I loved being a mum so much and was lucky enough to be a stay-at-home mum. But right now I was beginning to think I’d been off track with my Christian beliefs and desperately needed to know the truth about what I should be believing! And I needed God to show me from the Bible – I did not want to ask anyone else, I needed to find this out on my own. Just me and God.

Do or die

Not unlike Hannah who had a desperate request from God – give me a child or I’ll die – I was on a quest for truth and could not rest until I found it. I become a person who was driven, which was very strange as I’d always been quite complacent. With 5 different versions of the Bible (NKJ, NIV, Good News, The Living Bible & KJV) in front of me and a good concordance I spent my days studying and comparing scripture with scripture, one version with another.

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Passionately searching, seeking and allowing my beliefs and mindsets to be challenged. And I began to pray! I prayed and prayed day and night, asking God to show me the truth, telling God that I was willing to lay aside everything that I had formerly believed to be truth if he would show me His Truth. I reasoned that if I could not entrust everything to God, who is the creator and giver of truth, I certainly couldn’t trust anyone else.

Let go and let God…

There was a popular Christian song around this time that went, “I’m going to let go and let God do what he wants to do with me…” I literally did this! There is something very frightening about opening yourself up to admit that the things you have believed and held dear may have been wrong, and allowing them to be challenged and tested for robustness. It involves giving up control – a scary place to be! This is particularly true with religious beliefs and mindsets, because people tell you that if you don’t believe this or that you will go to hell… I read once that leaving a church and a belief-set that you believed to be true is similar to a divorce and in my experience that pretty much sums it up.

Finding God

This time of intense study, seeking and prayer continued for 18 months and there were times I wondered if I would lose my mind. I had a few verses of scripture that became my lifeline and helped me trust God in spite of everything. I prayed throughout the day, I prayed in the evening. I would go to sleep praying and I’d wake up praying. My sleep patterns were disrupted permanently, but in the end I found God and I found truth, and my life was changed forever!

My verses

Here are 3 of my favourite scriptures that gave my hope and helped me to trust the Lord during my quest to find truth:

John 10:27-29 “My sheep know my voice… They will not follow another… no one can snatch them out of my hand.”

John 8:26 “When the Holy Spirit come he will lead you into all truth…”

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, do not rely on your own understanding. Acknowledge the Him in all your ways and He will direct your path.”

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Thanks for reading my post, please leave a comment and share your thoughts. Until next time may the Lord bless you and keep you and cause his face to shine upon you.

 

 

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10 lessons life has taught me – Lesson 1

Lesson 1: It’s not all about me…

The more we focus on ourselves – our looks, our body, our disappointments, our hurts, our failures, and the list goes on and on – the more miserable and unhappy we become.

Regrets… I’ve had a few

I’ve spent my fair share of time disliking different aspects of my looks, wishing I could change things; stewing over my hurts and disappointments – for many years; wishing I’d made different life-choices – and regret, so much regret… until the day I realized that all this was a terrible waste of time and emotional energy, that all this was making me terribly miserable and physically and emotionally sick. I was allowing things that were past and gone to eat me up on the inside and it was showing on the outside.

I can’t let it go

I knew that the Bible tells us that we need to forgive as God forgives us and I had tried to forgive, but the hurts and disappointments would always come back. All it took was one little thought that I allowed my mind to begin dwelling on… and before I knew it I was in full swing, wasting a whole day replaying it all in my mind – this should have happened to me, people shouldn’t treat others this way, I’ve been badly done by and it’s so unfair – and all the old feelings of hurt, tears of disappointment, resentment and anger would come flooding back. I’ve always been one of those people that have to learn everything the hard way and this issue was no different. It took me over a decade to finally come to the point of realizing that hanging onto this stuff was self-defeating and self-destructive behavior. I finally came to see how unforgiveness is soul-destroying. I had become a negative, misery-guts, because I was allowing the past to affect my enjoyment of my current life.

70 times 7?

Just as I had done many times, one day I read the Bible verse where the disciples asked Jesus how many times they should forgive another person – Jesus surprised everyone, instead of saying 2 or 3 times, he said a ridiculous number of times – 70 x 7! But as I read on this day, the words came to life – I actually needed to be living this stuff, no exceptions or excuses!

I think Jesus said this, not only because of how many times God has forgiven us (and continues to forgive), but because God knows how destructive it is for us to hold unforgiveness in our hearts. Unforgiveness will eat you up, make you bitter and cause you to become a toxic person. The person that you hold unforgiveness against is also affected. When we are able to forgive (and we make the choice to forgive, even if we don’t “feel” like forgiving) not only does it set us free, it also sets the other person free. When we make the choice to forgive a weight will lift off our shoulders. Unforgiveness will even make us physically sick! Scientific research shows that it can be an underlying issue in many an illness, including cancer.

I can do it!

I came to the point where I was determined to finally forgive everything. So with much praying and seeking God, one by one as I thought of them, I began to forgive – I actually named the person and the incident and said, “___, I forgive you for ___ and release you from any blame. I hold nothing against you.” This action helped me to finally, truly, forgive. Once I made the decision to forgive, my sick churning stomach went away, as did my skin condition, bad back and my misery. Over a short period of time, I let it all go and I went from being a negative, unhappy person to become an extremely optimistic and happy person. Now I love my life, love people and love God. These days I focus more on what I can do to make the world a better and happier place. After all, it’s not all about me!

I hope you enjoyed the first of 10 lessons life has taught me. Please leave a comment or share your experiences and thoughts. Until next time, wishing you joy and blessings.

Lynda

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Getting a life 2: In pursuit of God (a)

Around October 2012 I spent some serious time reflecting on my spirituality over the last few years. This led me to the conclusion that I needed make some changes to become more active in what John Wimber (founder of Vineyard churches) used to call, “The Stuff of the Kingdom”.

I’ve always believed in God even as a child, I’d always prayed to God when I was in trouble, but didn’t really adjust my life to actually live the life of a Christian until I was 18 years old. That’s when I first encountered God. It was the 1970s and I had been contemplating adopting a hippy lifestyle. I was already concerned about healthy, organic foods, saving the earth, dressing like a hippy and wondering what life in a hippy commune would be like. Well, it was the ’70s after all!

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It was 1974, when I joined a few of my hippy friends who had started going to church after one of them arrived one morning, claiming he’d “seen the light”. After a few months, they all fell by the wayside, but I kept going to a church that was convinced it was the “One True Church“. And there I stayed, until 1986.

We had recently come back from a two year missionary stint in Papua New Guinea, somewhat disillusioned with “The Church“. I had begun to question the doctrines and beliefs that I had held dear for over 10 years and God used this disillusionment to stir a burning desire in my heart to know what the Bible actually taught – what the “truth” actually was.

Here I was in my late 20s, the mother of 4 lovely young children, with a desperate need to find the real “truth” according to the Bible. Over the next 18 months I had the most exciting and dramatic encounters with God that changed my life forever…

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But more about that next time!

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Getting a life 1: Must have fun!

One of my ‘Getting a life’ goals for 2013 is to involve myself in more social activities with people I like to hang out with, with the objective of having more fun and milking life for all it’s worth!
I used to have a lot of fun, now I don’t have enough of it! I’ve discovered that fun isn’t going to come to me very often, so I’ll just have get off my behind and make some fun myself.

So… I have started off the year with a ‘Fun bucket list’, which I will share with you dear reader, because it is an awesome list!

Fun bucket list 2013
Ice-cream night
Theme party
Movie night
International pot luck dinner
Outdoor screening
Wine & cheese night
Host a murder mystery night
Go to a jazz club
Impromptu road trip
Games night
Bowling night
Make a family movie
Start a blog
Miniature golf or other outdoor activity
Trivia night
BBQ
Go out for a picnic
Go into the city
Set up tables & host a restaurant night
Go dancing
Go out for dessert
Have a cards night

I have already started ticking items off. My favourite so far: Sunday night is now gelato night. We found a fantastic Italian gelato shop on Oxford St, Bulimba (in Brisbane) that has amazing flavors -Turkish delight, salted caramel, lavender, pavlova… With chunks of e.g. Turkish delight or caramel through it. We drive there every Sunday night, buy our gelatos, sit on a bench seat and eat and watch people walking by it’s great!!!

That’s all from me for now, I have social occasions to plan. Until next time, take care and enjoy life.

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It’s time to get a life!

20130223-112024.jpgAfter a few challenging years where my life seems to be going nowhere fast, my social network has gradually fallen off the radar and my spirituality has all but gone down the toilet, out the window or to the dogs – well it’s not entirely gone, but certainly not what it used to be – it is time to take control!!

Granted, that may be the longest sentence in history, but enough is enough! Life is too short, goes by too quickly as hours turn into days, days to weeks, etc., etc… and I’ve suddenly realised that… those days, weeks, months and years have gone forever! Shock, horror!!!

Well that does it – I refuse to let another year fly by (as opposed to fly buys) without taking some drastic action to claw back (pardon the pun any accountants out there) the fun, the constructive, the character development and the spirituality!

Therefore, I have begun 2013 with some very challenging goals. Not the New Year’s resolution kind of goals that last about a week, real measurable and accountable goals that go for at least a year and then continue on forever.

20130223-112053.jpgSo, in the spirit of Martin Luther, “Here I stand! I cannot and I will not recant!”

Watch out for my new posts as I launch into the unknown world of ‘Lifestyle transformation.’ Oh btw, I am still learning to position the photos…

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