A lifetime of thought-life: Green-eyed monsters, faith and suffering

Thought-life

Yesterday’s daily prompt was poignant for me. It’s not so much intense jealousy of one person; but guarding my heart against jealousy full stop. As a Christian, I would be required to do this anyway, but for me it seems like there is more temptation to do the opposite. I wrote about thought-life for Bible Reflections last December. What I wrote then is still applicable and appropriate now.

It’s maintaining that sense of perspective that is one of my biggest pitfalls. I have the same responsibility as the next Christian to hold every thought ‘captive’ (2 Corinthians 10:5). This instruction has been near the front of my mind many times in these past four years, because it is often my fiercest battle-ground due to the nature of what I am dealing with. I am reminded that we are to ‘rejoice’ always, giving thanks in everything (Philippians 4:4-7).

Jealousy, Envy or something in-between? 

Obviously I am only human, and there are times I am jealous. Sometimes jealousy is too strong a word. I used to be envious, jealous even of people that could work. People the same age as me who already made it to Ward Sister that I would meet when I was in hospital. I would feel it keenly that they had their career and I was nowhere. I think I have come to terms more with not being able to work. It is never something that will ‘sit easily’ with me because I would dearly love to be able to work.

At the moment, I can be envious of people who can move around more easily than me. To visit someone special in the summer will require a ‘military operation’ and I shall have to pay lots of money to cover my carer’s expenses, just to do something most people could do without hardly a second thought. I will do it, because they are worth it. Still, sometimes I think, ‘if I was normal, this would cost nothing’. Non-disabled, I would be able to drive my own car, and stay with said person, so far so normal… the reality is quite different. I do not yet wish to go into it, only to make clear where the potential to become envious lies.

This inability to travel easily has affected my social life before. I have not had a holiday since my brother’s wedding last year, and before that it would be about 3 yrs. Only because my wonderful parents collected me in a car on both occasions. I have to just not let myself think about those things. It is how it is, and that’s it, tough though that can be. It also means they are people I have not seen in years, like my best friend from big school, as I wouldn’t manage now to meet her halfway on my own.

‘What if…’

Sometimes people will say to me, if you didn’t have this or that, life would be easier for you. I understand why they say that. It comes from people who either spend a lot of time with me, or love me, or both. They see the hassle and distress my appliance can cause me and wish I was without it, as it would make a life-changing difference were I not to have it. It would, admittedly, also make life easier for those around me, and potentially make some of the aspects of going away easier. However, this is the situation, and to wish something was not so does not really help except to get me down, were I to really think about it. Of course, I wish life were simpler, but I saw something on Facebook that really helped, from my friend Wendy, a fellow blogger, who quoted something from Ann Voskamp: “Hard places give us the gift of intimately knowing God in ways that would never be possible in our comfort zones.” Whether you believe in God or not, the sentiment is true, that we learn more when we are pushed outside of our comfort zones than if we just bumble or drift along. There is though, always, the temptation to envy. This or that one has more money, can afford to go on holiday, can work, is healthy, is engaged…. This is why always, I should watch for my attitude and keep the right perspective. There are many good things I do have. Parents who love me, wider family who also loves me and some of whom travelled hundreds of miles to my birthday party last month, wonderful friends who form a vital part of a crucial support network, and someone special though early days. The less said of that, the better! I am privileged God has given me a little house I can get around with my wheelchair and good enough adaptions I can access as much of it by myself as possible. As councils become increasingly cash strapped, housing like mine though rare, will become ever more impossible for those that need them to find. This is something I am extremely thankful for. Out of these blessings comes a responsibility to share what I have. The more I give to others, because I have been given much, the more I feel fulfilled, and less tempted to want what I do not have, or cannot do. It is a constant checking of my attitude and my thoughts; at which I know I need to work at, as do we all. There, at least, I am ‘normal’!!

ouch, that hurt!

This post is in answer to the daily post from 28/12/12. I LOVE books. I have several on the go at once. A few months ago I saved up vouchers and put them together to buy a Kindle 4; this model is the last of the simple ones. I love it! It makes it so much easier to have several books on the go at once, and still know where I’m at with them all. I did used to read a lot of romances, but these days they don’t have enough bite for me. I love a good autobiography to really get lost in someone else’s story, to feel what they feel and ‘walk in their shoes’. 

Recently though, I’ve been downloading different kinds of books. I saw a daily devotional book on the psalms at my friends house which looked good, so I downloaded that along with C.H. Spurgeon’s thoughts on the Psalms. It is worth persevering with the language, because some of what he has to say is extremely pertinent, just right for today, and can often make me think. 

Apart from that, there are a few others which have really made me think recently. One of those I do not wish to mention here. Others I am reading in preparation for my next article for Bible Reflections. That just leaves one more book, by Jerusha Clark called “Every Thought Captive” which encourages women to think about their thought life. It’s an odd thing, thinking about what you are thinking about, but a necessary part of discipleship, as previously discussed here, in my previous article for Bible Reflections. I started the book when I started thinking about that particular post, but it was something on my mind that I felt I had to do. It’s something I really struggle with. Also, I think it’s appropriate at the end of the year to take a bit of an inventory of the year gone. I’m not sure if I agree with setting arbitrary goals for the year ahead. However, I feel if I do not examine where I have been, how do I know where I’m going, and how do I learn from many) mistakes?  I’m really just at the start of this journey of considering my thought life, but one of the author’s opening thoughts really struck me:

Often it’s easier to believe that we’re worthless and weak than it is to truly accept that in God we are incomparably valuable and girded with matchless strength.

I’m still wondering why that is. I think it is to do with how hard it is to change our way of thinking. It is easier to worth with how we have always been than to make the effort to change. This particular thought has swirled round in my mind for weeks. I’ve been unable to move on. This has stung me again and again. There’ll be more thoughts on this book in the coming months. If you are starting to think about what you think, I’d really recommend it.

 

A word of encouragement…

Noticeable through absence!…

As yet, as far as I remember, I haven’t yet blogged specifically about my faith, or faith in general. There are couple of notable exceptions such as when I blogged about my “health story” and referred to the way God has sustained me and been my strength. The other time is when I highlighted the plight of Rimsha, the girl in Pakistan who has been persecuted for her faith. I encourage you to continue to pray for her, and visit the website for “Open Doors” for updates. 

The Jesus bit

I read something yesterday which I would like to share. I use some Bible Reading notes published by the Good book company, called “Explore”. Yesterday, the main passage was from Luke 23: 2-12, talking about how Innocent Jesus was, and is. Especially in comparison to us, Obviously it was His Innocence that made him sinless, and therefore eligible to be the sacrificial Lamb on our behalf to atone for our sins. This is something we ought to take time to thank Jesus for. This also means that because of Jesus sinless-ness, and his sacrifice, we can be cleansed form our sin, and are made clean, and new. As new creations, we are given new garments to wear. Galatians 3 26-27. I am reminded of how good new clothes feel, especially if they are posh new clothes. They make me feel good, look good and I don’t want to do anything to spoil them so I try my hardest not to spill anything on them or soil them in any way. It should be the same with the “new clothes” Jesus  gives us. We should be determined not to do anything to dirty them in any way. This means that as well as turning from old sins, our thought-lives should also be renewed. “transformed, by the renewing of our minds”. This means you (and me!) should “set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (Colossians 3:1-2, also see v 3 and 4). What are the ‘things above’ we should be thinking of?

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)

 

What a challenge! Fortunately we do not have to do these things in our own strength with with His help and by His power. I hope these verses encourage you as you go through your day today.