Funky Little Adventure: Getting out of my comfort zone :/

IMG_20180806_153806464.jpg“What will this day be like? I wonder.
What will my future be? I wonder.
It could be so exciting, to be out in the world–to be free!
My heart should be wildly rejoicing!
…Oh, what’s the matter with me?
I’ve always longed for adventure, to do the things I’ve never dared.
Now here I’m facing adventure; then why am I so scared?”

Getting out of your comfort zone. I’ve been there. I’ve felt the constricting throat that makes speaking hard, the fast-paced beating of the heart, the slow, controlled breathing holding back tears of fear as I drive into new territory. I’ve cried alone on the bed until midnight, feeling like the only one in the world, wanting to sleep who taut to relax.  I am there.

IMG_20180802_160343459.jpgThis month, I’ve moved out to Camp Douglas Smith, a run-down property alongside Hamlin Lake. While there are lots of perks to the job, I’m still really struggling to enjoy it. As I have named it, my “squatter’s shanty” is not exactly a dream vacation destination. As I wrote in my initial description of my stay, “Arrived and cleaned out the spiders, beech nuts, rodent scat, and other things from my 8′ x 10′ cabin with a half broken broom. Tried hard to stay positive about the shape of the little wooden box. On the plus IMG_20180802_160407782_HDRside; I do have electricity.” An inventory of the cabin disclosed one folding wooden table (sinking into the rotting floor boards), two old wooden chairs, a nice mattress, a half-broken broom, and a heck of a lot of graffiti from the 1970s.

This is out of my comfort zone. I talk about life being an adventure. But at this moment I shake my head and murmur, “I’m really not that into adventure anymore, actually.” I talk about faking it till you make it, but right now, I’m faking it so much like an actress…behind a mask…dressed in an animal suit so people aren’t even sure I’m a human. I talk about controlling emotions instead of letting emotions control me. But right now, my emotions are setting up a heck of a protest and I’m hearing every word they say.

To tell you that I always practice what I preach would be a lie. To tell you that I, as a Christian, have achieved eternal joy and always rest in His peace and spend my days brimming with hope would be a smite more than an exaggeration. To tell you I’m a img_20180805_160203044_hdr.jpghypocrite who offers life hacks for everything but still has a lot of bad days would be much more honest.

But. I’m human. And I’m learning.

And, even in the discomfort, even in the flood of emotions, even in the digging-my-heels-in-wishing-I-could-be-back-home, I still believe that getting out of my comfort zone is important. No, I don’t like it. Does anyone? But it’s adventures like this that lead me to have new perspectives. That is valuable. Getting out of my comfort zone reminds me that I’m not living for right now because, well, Earth stinks (I’m waiting for what’s ahead). That’s valuable. Struggling through these discomforts causes me to cry out to God. That’s valuable. And then, eventually, I get more comfortable in the position. And that gives me freedom to do more, serve more, reach farther. That’s valuable.

Don’t let my cheery advice fool you; I’m human and, even though I wholly believe in peace and hope and joy, I have my rotten days too. But, although I’m currently struggling with all the whirlwind of being out of my comfort zone, I still believe. I still believe that God has a plan in this. I still believe it’s worth it. And I still believe that it’s okay to fall. IMG_20180808_192736999But then we have to get back up again.

Please share some of your experiences with getting out of your comfort zone. Do you regret it? What did you learn? Do you agree or disagree with my claim that it’s worth it?

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When to Worry; Learning to See the Lord’s Provision

IMG_20180711_172319417Some nights I lie in bed and cry. I’m not trying to evoke pity because, if we’re honest, I think we all do this sometimes. And if we don’t, I think we certainly want to. Life is tough and tears happen.

Last night was one of those nights for me. My problems, though they be so much less than those others bear, still send me reeling sometimes. This week at work is going to be a super busy one with six or seven long days in a row. After this week is over, my work schedule gets really choppy and I don’t know where I’ll be or when yet. I need an internship for fall and, along with that, I need a car. And I’ve been biting my nails looking at my finances… Also this month, I’ve been having this really weird painfully sensitive skin problem that’s been moving around my body (yeah…weird…). And I’m tired.

Even though others go through much worse, at 11 pm last night, this just seemed like too much for me. In truth, I do think life is too much for me. And for you. God never intended us to run life on our own. So I lay in bed, pouring out tears and prayers, reminding my all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving God not to let me slip through the cracks (you can tell God anything, even if it might seem offensive or unholy. Heck, God knows it already. And he wants desperately to be there for you).

IMG_20180507_171749639_HDR.jpgWhile it may not have been in the most stereotypical “old wise man on the mountain” wording, I once had a friend wisely tell me,”Girl, tell me one time when God has not provided for you. THEN you’re allowed to worry.”

The Lord provides.

This morning, when I awoke, I found a text saying I could come into work two hours later. I also found an email which said, “Keep me posted on the…internship. I wrote you a glowing recommendation, and I can’t imagine that falling through if you want it.”

Praise the Lord! Not because two hours off of work is going to fix all my problems. Not because a glowing recommendation is going to guarantee me the perfect internship. Not because I know have a car or won the lottery or have perfect health. But, among many other legitimate reasons, praise the Lord because he hears me. If the Lord of the universe is willing to offer encouragement, is willing to offer an “it’ll be alright,” is willing to show me in the simple ways that he hears my cries late at night, then I can rejoice 36466291_1628624740596616_3120531260825403392_n.jpgwholeheartedly, even when I still have struggles.

God may not answer our prayers the way we want and he might not answer our prayers right away. But if he did, where would trust come in? There is beauty in a relationship where there is trust. To give me everything right now would be to flatten a relationship that has potential to be so many dimensions.

One could argue that these two encouraging occurrences are coincidences. One could argue that, because I want to see God, I’m making him up in places he’s not. To that, I have two responses. First, it goes both ways: if I spent my life trying not to see God, I could probably get away with that. It’s true that we see what we want to see. But it’s also true that, regardless of our individual perspectives, there is an actual truth, which leads to my second response: if I believe in a God of the universe who is really all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving, I wouldn’t put it past such a deity to provide simple encouragements–especially one who tells us to pray to him because he does hear us.

It was very encouraging to hear God this morning and be reminded that he loves me. But honestly, I know that pretty soon, life will swallow me again. I’ll spend another night in bed crying. But that’s because there is sin in the world, not because God has left me. And that’s why it’s so significant that we write down these moments where God is speaking to us–or we will forget. When we forget the ways God has talked to us in the past, when we don’t feel encouraged anymore, it’s easy to believe he doesn’t listen to our prayers. But faith is not a feeling. 

I bet you don’t remember very vividly nor accurately the pain of having a skinned knee from when you were a child. But that doesn’t make it any less true that, as a kid, you did indeed skin your knee and it was terribly painful. So, in moments of fear and pain, don’t img_20171004_221824757.jpgblow off those moments where you felt the Lord give you a comforting embrace. I encourage you to keep track of answered prayers and return to that when you need peace. Because God does hear your cries. And the Lord does provide. Let him encourage you in those moments and learn to rely on trust when you aren’t feeling his presence.

P. S. Since I wrote this post a few days ago, I was offered a position for an internship! 🙂

When what’s right is wrong: Considering timing

A black alarm clock on a chair

The right thing at the wrong time is still the wrong thing.

Last summer I wrote a post regarding how our culture encourages us to “follow your heart.” I wrote about how this can often take us where we don’t want to go.  Something can ‘feel’ right and be completely wrong. I wrote this post because while we know this, we don’t think about it. When you’re angry, it can feel right to hit someone, but we all know this isn’t right. So I wrote my post to encourage you to think about your feelings and to gauge if they’re wrong, even if they feel right. This isn’t too complex.

But what happens when something feels right and it actually is right, but is still somehow wrong? Let me explain. I read a quote once that really stuck with me, even after I forgot where I read it: “The right thing at the wrong time is still the wrong thing.”

This sentence doesn’t make much sense unless we put some examples to it.

A dog wearing a disguise mask with glasses, a large nose and moustacheStarting simple, pretend I have a good sense of humor (haha.). I’m lighthearted and enjoy taking life lightly. This is good. It’s good to be lighthearted. And it’s right to be myself. But say I have a friend going through a really hard time and I go to lunch with her as she’s really stressed. I might be light-hearted, and that might be the way God made me–it might be right, but, in this specific instance–at this time, being light-hearted is the wrong thing.

This one might make sense, but it gets harder to see as the situations become more serious. Say I committed to a summer job, then had someone approach me begging me to fill a different position somewhere else that fit who I was perfectly. This job would be right. It would use my talents to help someone. It could be glorifying God. This feels right. And isn’t it right? But, because I’d already committed somewhere else and can’t back out, this is the wrong time. So it is wrong, at this time, to take the perfect job.

eric-ward-342202 - Edited.jpgOr say I am very attracted to someone and I desire strongly to support and encourage this person. This feels right. And, isn’t it right? Supporting someone, loving someone, encouraging someone…these are right. These are the right thing. But if I can’t commit to a long-term relationship with these kinds of actions, then I’m playing with someone’s heart. Then now is the wrong time to show these right actions. So it is wrong, in this case, to be loving.

Therefore there are times when doing the right thing is wrong. And this is so hard to wrap my mind around. In some instances, we get this. We get that it’s not always loving to be light-hearted and that sometimes we need to be serious. But, if you’re like me, the circumstances get harder and harder to see clearly. To say no to a perfect job? To quash my loving actions? Understanding that the right thing may be the wrong thing is so much harder than understanding that sometimes that what feels right is actually wrong.

But, as Christ-followers, we’re called to live differently. We are called to speak a different language with our actions. If you’re like me, when that perfect job arises after you’ve committed to one already, or when you have strong feelings for someone who you A black-and-white shot of a pocket watchcan’t commit to, you fight your conscience saying that “this is right. I’m doing the right thing.” because loving someone or finding a job that fits you seems so right. But consider timing.

Don’t fool yourself. The right thing at the wrong time is still the wrong thing.

Lessons from Backpacking: but also applicable to non-backpackers ;)

IMG_20180307_122256884I’ll admit I’m a novice. I’ve only been backpacking twice in my life. But, before you disregard my entire post because of my lack of experience, recognize that it is sometimes the newbies who have the fresh eyes.

1. Water is valuable

Drinking water, showering water, waterfall water…  You know water is valuable when, on top of all else you’re carrying 6.5 miles up 3,000 feet of mountain (not the most fun IMG_20180305_131123154.jpgexperience in the moment, to be honest), the crew adds a couple more pounds of water–just to make sure we’ll have something to drink at the top. A month after returning from that trip, I was trying to fill up a water bottle at a dinky water fountain that was only pulling half it’s weight. For a second, I was impatient, but I remembered how much easier, still, this is than filling a water bottle and filtering that through a hose into another water bottle before even having a sip of clean water. Most Americans have clean drinking water, running water in their houses, and–especially those of use who know the beauty of the Great Lakes–have many other sources of water to appreciate. Don’t take the little things for granted.

2. It’s all about the angle of the photograph

IMG_20180508_134020899.jpgYou ever see those advertisements for dream vacations and think that’s looks pretty swell? Backpacking has once again impressed the truth that life isn’t about seeking out the coolest places, but about seeking out the coolness in wherever you happen to be. Sure, a picture of a crystal-clear ocean looks attractive. But honestly, a picture of a group of friends hammocking in the middle of the most average woods can have the same appeal if shot from the right angle and with the right lighting. You don’t have to travel far or pay much to have the best times in life: you just have to learn to see from the right angle.

3. Never take a vacation from God

On our last backpacking trip, the most trivial things would annoy me. I was frustrated with how frustrated I’d get when food took too long to cook, when we had to change IMG_1539.JPGplans, when I had to sit in the car more than I wanted to. I didn’t understand why I was bothered by such small issues. It wasn’t until the day we were packing up to leave that I awoke early and had some actual one-on-one time with God. The experience was what Christians write inspirational books on! How extremely refreshing it was to reconnect with the Creator of the landscape we’d been exploring. This time with God re-centered my thoughts, refocused my perspective, and left me rejoicing. Even in the midst of a busy week with lots of people, time with God one-on-one is a must. Always.

4. Company is key

On my very first day ever of backpacking, our group got lost. We were literally IMG_20180508_110214010.jpgtrailblazing (let me tell you, when you’ve got an over-sized pack on your back, you don’t fit through or under anything, your balance is off, and climbing over anything is double as much work!), quite uncertain of whether we should press on or turn around. We were hungry and tired (very tired, actually) and rain was on the way. When you’re lost in the woods like this for hours and not one of the company complains, you know you’ve got a prime group. That day emphasized the importance of surrounding myself with a group of encouraging friends. Who you spend your time with matters.

5. Preparation is worth it

While packing for camping trips, I almost without exception question whether the work is worth the pleasure. I have to pull out a set of drawers to climb into a dark cubby hole with a tiny door and no lights to grab my sleeping bag. I have to bring a ladder into the house from the garage to reach the cubby spaces up high in our mudroom to get a tent. I have to IMG_20180509_140720516scour the garage and dig through bags to retrieve camp cooking utensils. I have to brave the somewhat sketchy garage attic to find a cooler. And, through all of this, I have to painfully dread returning all of these items when the trip is over. But every time, once I make it to the actual adventure, every piece of preparation was worthwhile. Our time on earth isn’t our end goal; it is preparation for the life to come. “To live is Christ, to die is gain” and there have been many, many days where I feel that I understand this passage. Living here on earth ain’t the greatest joy of all time. But I believe that the preparation will be worth it when we arrive at our actual home.

 

The Messed-Up World: Having a Realistic Perspective of Life

IMG_20180522_182606897Will it hurt? Will I be afraid? Will I be lonely? Will I mess up? Will I hate it? Will I be bored? Will I want to die?

It’s no secret I struggle with fear of the future. Recently I’ve seen dread stealing joy. Memorial day weekend was a beautiful three-day weekend; but some of the bliss of an extra day off from work was masked by dread of starting work again. If I get to bed on time, I can have the peace of knowing I can sleep for the next eight hours; but sometimes that peace is stolen by the dread of waking up. I love school and enjoy so many aspects of being at Cornerstone University; but sometimes the blessings of school is darkened by my dread of what happens after I graduate.

How frustrating it is to so often not be able to appreciate the joys I have right in front my face. But what I realized recently is that I actually don’t even have to ask these haunting questions anymore; I already have the answers: yes, yes, and yes to all of the above.

Honestly folks, don’t try to tell me otherwise. In the future, I will hurt, I will be afraid, I will be lonely, I will mess up, I will hate life, I will be bored, and I will want to die. After A shattered flowerpot on a windowsillall, the author of Philippians put it well, “To live is Christ, to die is gain.” We live in a sinful, broken, painful but temporary world. We who are sincerely pursuing a relationship with Christ are called to be soldiers in the battle on this world. That means we’re going to get hurt, we’re going to get tired, and we’re going to go through some really rough patches. But, after the Fall, this is the way the world is and–in a manner of speaking–it’s quite the way it’s supposed to be.

The significance of this may not be clear at first. After all, how can such depressing news lead to anything but dread of the future?! But see, perspective is powerful.

The first thing this realization does is remind me that life on earth is temporary and it’s not the worst thing that could happen if it doesn’t go great. I mean, if my entire life–every second of it–were to be wholly rotten, as soon as I was resurrected, the temporary pain would be completely past and absolutely nothing in comparison to eternity.

Secondly, this realization helps me to reorient my expectations. If I expect that happiness and ease are owed me, then it makes sense for me to fear their leaving. Today I might fear tomorrow’s happiness being stolen because I am deserving of that pleasure tomorrow, but I know I don’t always have it. Therefore, I fear being cheated. However, to recognize that pleasure isn’t something I can expect means that I don’t have to fear it not existing tomorrow.

Image result for lawn mowerConsider this: if you were to borrow your neighbor’s lawn mower, would you, whilst mowing your lawn, dread the moment you have to return it? I would hope not. Instead you’re likely to be grateful to have it in the moment. Indeed, if pleasure is not something guaranteed, but is, instead borrowed in a way, then it becomes a pleasant surprise when offered. It is easier to enjoy the extra day off from work, the eight hours of sleep, or the current situation in school, because these pleasures are not guaranteed, so we don’t try to possess them. At the same time, they aren’t inherently expected–so they are also a beautiful surprise.

C. S. Lewis in his book, The Screwtape Letters, points out that man, expecting his free time to be wholly “his,” becomes upset when something is required of him during this moment. But, how narrow-minded this is! God has gifted each man with every breath he breathes. If we, instead, expect to use our time for God’s glory, the times that he provides for our individual rest will be accepted in gratitude instead of demanded in selfish pride.

Therefore, going through life expecting it to be painful and hard and, sometimes, wretched, in an ironic way, opens my eyes to the beauty and joy and pleasures that I am offered in the present. 

I feel I ought to note also that having this realistic perception of the fallenness of the world doesn’t inherently mean we cannot always be joyful (1 Thessalonians 5:16) or cannot always sense God’s peace that surpasses understanding (Philipians 4:7). I wholeheartedly believe that, because we know how the story ends, we can still experience these blessings, even without being blind to the painful situation Earth is in. Faith is not a feeling and feeling lonely or scared or like a failure is inevitable sometimes. However, these feelings need not define us.

Overall, then, I call Christians to a realistic perception of the world: it stinks. “Smile, Jesus Image result for smile jesus loves youloves you” isn’t inherently wrong by any means, but we also can’t expect that all the time. We should live fully aware that we are soldiers fighting a bloody battle, aware that we’ll often lie sleepless at night bearing the burdens of the world, and that there will be days where we’d much rather take the gain of death than the life of Christ.

But, in all of this, there is a peace and a joy that comes with the release of the “American dream.” Enjoy every blessing that God offers you right now. But don’t worry about what will come tomorrow. Your pleasure isn’t expected tomorrow, it’s expected in the next life.

 

Together in Solitude: The Importance of Spending Time Alone with God

IMG_20180518_162805791Last Friday I went out on a date and it was so refreshing. We sat in my hammock out in the warm, sunny woods alongside Hamlin Lake, enjoying the steady breeze, talking, and just hanging out (get the pun?). The funny thing is, if anyone had walked by, they would’ve thought I was hammocking by myself, because they couldn’t see that my date was with God. Judge me if you want, but if you don’t think a date with God is legit, you’re obviously missing out.

The week before had just been my first week of a new job and I was quite wound up. I was a little stressed and anxious and had been running around like absolute crazy helping my family pack up for a vacation that week. Finally sitting down, I told God all about it. It was great. I didn’t have to put on a face to pretend it was all okay. But I also didn’t have to reassure God that I was not intending to complain. He already knew. I could admit everything and know that he still loves me–like crazy. Unlike looking to a human relationship for satisfaction, I also knew that everything I put into this relationship really could satisfy me. One hundred percent guaranteed.

As I talked to God, he talked to me. It wasn’t verbal, but I could definitely sense his IMG_20180506_165424607_HDRpresence in the creation all around me. Who created the beautiful sunshine? The bright green leaves? The warm weather? The breeze? Our time together also gave me a chance to remember all the things I know but forget in the business of life: God is in control no matter what; I have no need to worry, he loves me so much he’s delighted to hang out–no matter where or how, I’m so blessed to have the job I have, even if I don’t love it every moment.

My last blog post spoke of the importance of people. Here I’d like to address the importance of solitude and silence before God. In a raffle last semester I won a book titled, “The Celebration of Discipline.” Woohoo! Right? Admittedly the book is a little dry, but still has some really good points. The author, Richard Foster, explains that when we never take time to be silent, we miss out on hearing from God: “The preacher is such a bore. The hymn singing is too weak. The worship service is too dull. We may begin to look around for another church or a new experience to give us ‘spiritual goose bumps.’ This is a serious mistake…rather than chafing and fighting, become still and wait.” Have you ever considered that your spiritual walk may feel so boring and like a chore simply because you’re completely ignoring a passionate conversation that God wants to have with you?

God rarely, in my experience, speaks verbally. But there are so many times when he’s spoken to me through my surroundings, other people, and my thoughts. I forget about my blessings, I forget about other people, and I forget the joys of growing in a relationship with God when I never take the time to be silent.

Therefore, to approach this goal of giving God some silent alone time to listen to him, I have some achievable ambitions:

  1. I am a HUGE fan of music. When I have access to music and am working on an activity that allows me to, I’m listening to music about 90% of the time (my family can attest!). Most of the time it’s worship music, too. But I’ve come to realize that, even if it is a good message, that doesn’t mean there can’t be something better. Tyler Joseph, leading singer in the band 21 Pilots, wrote a song titled “Car Radio” after someone stole his car radio. In his commentary about the song, he stated, “It was interesting to see how when I removed the distraction of music from my life in my car, where my brain would go…thoughts that would go through my mind… I still encourage people to take some time to just sit in silence every once in a while. A lot of things can come out…a lot of things that need to come out.” For a week, I’m going to try not turning on the music on my commute to and from work. Maybe nothing will happen. Maybe something will.
  2. Lying in bed at night can be a perfect time to reflect on what happened during the day and to reset your attitude. Similarly, the morning is a great time to consciously pick your outlook for the day. My goal, then is to, for just one week for starters, not be on my phone or computer for half an hour before bed and half an hour after I wake up. That will give me a little time to have a conversation with God before I converse via text with my friends.
  3. A third option, is to simply take prayers before meals seriously. How quick we are to state, “Thanks God, for the food and for my family. Amen.” But, while God appreciates the short prayers, they are often spoken thoughtlessly. Take a moment to transform a thoughtless process into a genuine conversation with the God of the universe.

These activities provide a perfect time for prayer–a most powerful, overlooked spiritual discipline. How do you expect God to work in your life if you aren’t speaking to him? Just talk. Seriously, he wants to be in a relationship with you and talking is a great way to kick that off!

Or read your Bible! This is another spiritual discipline which is completely thrown aside so often. But we Christians base our faith off of this book, shouldn’t we be actively digging into it?

If both of these suggestions intimidate you, start with something as absolutely approachable as using this time to reflect. At school, a group of us would meet for dinner on Fridays and go over highlights and lowlights of the week. So often when trying to find highlights and lowlights, we would state, “Geez, I don’t really remember what happened this week!” My friend mentioned that this was all the more reason to intentionally reflect. You only have one life; you might as well be aware of what you’re doing in it! When I reflect, it reminds me of how blessed I am, which leads to my praising God.

In closing, I want to warn that silence and solitude is a discipline and, like everything 30428831301_436bb2c60e_belse in life, it takes effort (cliche, but true!). In order to practice what I preach, today I turned off the music for an hour while I worked out by myself and took at shower. I think it’s a sign I need more focus when I find myself singing in place of the music or pretending to be a Spanish-speaking fitness trainer…or both (I have a pretty good imagination…).

But faith is not a feeling and relationships take work. But if you ask me, having the chance to go on a date with the Creator of the universe who is passionately pursuing us is worth a little effort…

How to be Happy, Seriously.

IMG_20180509_142441718_HDR-EFFECTS.jpgI sat on the edge of my little brother’s bed as I said goodnight to him. “How much money did you make at work today?” He questioned, somewhat randomly. “Sometime could you give me just $2,000 so that I can buy a nice 4-wheeler?”

I chuckled a little, but was completely opposed to the idea. “No.”

“Why not?”

“I love you and I want you to be safe, buddy.”

“But the $2,000 4-wheeler has a seat belt! Please!”

“No, I need the money for school, kiddo..”100_0795 - Edited

The discussion went on for a while as he tried to acquire the cash and I discouraged him. He kept asking “why?” and I had to think of an answer that was good enough to stop the pleading. Finally I realized the actual reason I was most opposed to him pursuing this 4-wheeler: “Buddy, the reason I don’t want you to get this is because it’s not going to make you happy.”

It’s the truth. Sure a 4-wheeler would be a ton of fun, but he’s got a lot of other (cheaper) toys that he’s bored with; a 4-wheeler would eventually amount to the same. But my 11-year-old brother has a hard time believing me.

In fact, don’t we all have a hard time believing that things won’t make us happy? Culture is ready to “satisfy” our needs with possessions. But if we look to possessions to be happy, we won’t ever be satisfied. This is something I have a feeling we all know with head knowledge, regardless of where our hearts are. So I’m not going to try to beat you over the head with it. While it’s important to remember that possessions cannot provide joy, the idea isn’t really new and it’s harder to believe than we’d like.

However, an idea that is slightly more novel, and thereby useful, would be something that Andy Stanley said in his sermon serious “What Makes You Happy.” He stated that IMG_20180511_160258995you need a “who or two” to be happy. While spending time, energy, or money on things does very little to satisfy long term, spending time, energy, or money on people is a thoroughly rewarding pursuit.

Over and over I have found this in my daily life. Reading my brother a goodnight story, helping my mom make dinner, folding laundry with my sister, cleaning the bathroom for my siblings, buying someone a surprise doughnut, have left me feeling fuller than anything I could ever do by myself. What are you doing to spend your time, energy, or money on people?

Even just being more thoughtfully aware of others does much to help my attitude. For example, the thought of going to work this morning wasn’t the happiest thought I’ve ever had. However, if I break for just a minute to realize that going to work can be a way to serve others, I suddenly can find meaning and purpose in it–because then I’m making work about other people instead of myself.

There are some simple and entirely reasonable methods for applying this perspective.

  1. Okay, first things first: our God is the God of joy. In order to be content and purposeful, the first thing you need to do is to connect with God!
  2. After having done so, though, there are ways to be more intentional about our attitudes. When I think I’m having the worstest day ever, remembering that other people have problems too is like a taser shock reminding me of my blessings. A recent goal for me is that, when I’m having a bad day, I reach out and ask how other people are doing. Turning my thoughts away from my pity party is not only helpful for me, but encouraging to the others.
  3. img_20180506_143341873_hdr.jpgMy psychology professor, Dr. Geoff Kramer, once informed me of research he’d found which stated that money spent on activities with people as opposed to possessions for oneself were far more rewarding. This is so easily applicable; it’s worth considering. If you had the choice between spending $40 on a day trip with friends or on a new pair of jeans, the former will provide a better sense of fulfillment.
  4. I’d like to encourage you to spend time with other people. Maybe make it a daily goal to intentionally serve someone else–even if it’s as simple as intentionally opening a door or putting away dry dishes from the rack or even just hanging out, honestly. These can take less than two minutes, but this focus can be enough to get your head out of your own little world and to start thinking about others. Whenever I do this, I’m that much closer to “be[ing] joyful always” and living with the hope and love that we, as Christians, should aspire to.

If you want to be happy, start looking for ways to make others happy. How beautiful is it that our wise God set up life in such a way that making others happy makes us happy as well 🙂 Trust me, we all know it’s not always peachy. You definitely won’t always feel delighted about serving others or spending time or money on them. But I can entirely guarantee that it will leave you happier than if you left humans out of the happiness pursuit.img_20170708_153402971_hdr.jpg