Friday, January 25, 2008

Self-Improvement

Were they mistakes or little blunders in life? Whatever you decide to label them, the one question remains: have you learned from it all? A lot of people, including myself have said words like, “I soooo regret doing that”, or “I wish I never met him/her!” As the old saying goes, we meet people for a reason, a season and for a lifetime. I truly believe God places people in our lives for a reason. Even if your experience was a not so pleasant one, there’s something to be learned from it all. I had a hard time thinking this way and tried to psychoanalyze why this person came into my life to only have disappeared or to have left a pile of crap behind for me to clean up. It still remains a mystery. If you can’t figure out the behaviors of some people – try figuring out your own behavior. When somebody comes crashing into my life like a hurricane and leaves in the same way, I try analyzing my own behavior and how I could have handled it better. Let’s face it – we always think we handled it better than they did. Not always true.

“When we erect defenses against our own inadequacies and try to hide our faults from ourselves and others, we close the door to a vital source of self-knowledge and therefore deny ourselves the joy of spiritual growth. Every one of us can improve what we’re doing and the way in which it’s being done. As they say, ‘The largest room in the world – is room for improvement!’” ~Christian Faith Fellowship Family Church

Many of times, I’ve found myself saying, “Well, if he/she didn’t say or do that, then I wouldn’t have said or done this!” Maybe it’s not the matter of what the other person does – try relying on the responses that you give back in return. I’ve been known to blow a few corks in my time…ok, maybe a ton! But, after going through a rough two years, I’ve realized that my spirituality and my self-control were down the drain. I needed self-improvement. I needed strength and wisdom to know better. I needed God. I was an emotional train wreck and opted for the explosive and self-destructive responses, which ultimately hurt the person(s) that came within my fire.

Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can fully share its joy. ~Proverbs 14:10

How can somebody be pleased or happy with you when all you have in your heart is bitterness? That’s exactly what happened to me. I was bitter. No one could penetrate it – unless I decided to let go of it and completely become vulnerable and receptive to those around me. I put up a huge wall of protection, when it actually hurt me in the end. Emotional walls can only hurt you. There’s this saying somebody recently told me that really stuck with me: if you don’t trust anyone, then there’s reasons not to trust you. It makes sense. Don’t get me wrong, people will always disappoint us one way or the other, but we if we look at it differently, we can give the benefit of the doubt and be content with ourselves knowing we did our best. How can you go wrong with that? Fear will only lead you into bitterness – which happened to me.

Laughter can conceal a heavy heart; when the laughter ends, the grief remains. ~Proverbs 14:13

Sure I could put on a smile, laugh and joke all night with you, but if I don’t decide to resolve the issues brewing inside myself, I am not truly the “happy face” you see in front of you. I think it’s safe to say I can speak for many people on this one. Picture it: if I’m depressed and crying all day, yet I have to go out that very evening, I apply much more make up and do my hair more. I put on my “happy face” – but yet, I come home sad…and of course, the make up gets washed off and the hair goes up into a ponytail. This is why I am trying to make an extreme effort to improve myself emotionally, spiritually and also physically. I want to be a “genuine happy person”, instead of faking it and putting on facades. It’s been challenging, but with effort, prayer and walking out in pure faith, I’ve come to realize that being happy from within enables me to make other people happy. (Or at least I try!)

A relaxed attitude lengthens life; jealousy rots it away. ~Proverbs 14:30

These scriptures help me a lot. Not only was I bitter, I had a wicked jealousy streak. This could apply to anything I coveted or felt I had control over. No one has control over anyone, anything, or any happening. Life is out of our control. We can only control our responses and the way we treat others. The first impulse of somebody in a relationship who is spiritually dead or bitter is a jealous response. Jealousy not only eats right through the heart – but it ruins relationships and makes the trust factors (if any) melt away into a big pile of nothingness. It’s not worth it. If somebody is going to cheat on you – they’re going to do it regardless - whether you’re jealous or not. We absolutely have zero control over life.

Knowing God leads to self-control. Self-control leads to patient endurance, and patient endurance leads to godliness. Godliness leads to love for other Christians, and finally you will grow to have genuine love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more you will become productive and useful in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop these virtues are blind or, at least, very shortsighted. They have already forgotten that God has cleansed them from their old life of sin. ~2 Peter 1:6-9

Wish me luck. I’m still trying to practice self-control and patience. When I see myself slipping, I realize I’m drawing further away from God, however, when I’m closer to God I’m closer to the way I want to be: patient, understanding with a relaxed attitude.