The picture above is how it feels. We want the peace of that lighthouse......that beacon of hope.....that symbol of guidance........ and here comes the cargo ship full of stuff that we can't live without. Here comes that load.....that responsibility........that heaviness.
We are represented by the fishing boats who must go out into the sea of life, to cast our nets, to weather the storms, and make the living......... to afford the stuff.......to lift the load.
It's overwhelming, exhausting and consuming.......can we find peace on planet crazy?
Romans 8: 5 - 6
5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Being busy and being productive can reside at opposite ends of the scale. Sometimes, having more means having less. Rest and spiritual renewal are worth their weight in gold. We cannot alleviate our need for peace and contentment.
I want to share seven thoughts, ideas and motivations that can lead us to a more peaceful existence.
1. Don’t live beyond your means. Don’t go into debt for things that will be in the landfill next year. We were created in the image of God, not the Mall of America.
Be happy with what you have and learn to be creative with less. It’s not as difficult as is sounds. After all, you’ll be tired of it in two months, but you’ll still be paying interest on it. Don’t fall into the advertising trap.
Learn to ask, “Do I really need that and will I actually use it or wear it?”
If you can't afford the big house, the designer sports car, the bass boat or the latest iPhone, be thankful. Celebrate the fact that your friends won’t be jealous (a little humor here). Owning less doesn't make you any less of a person. Ownership equals responsibility. Ownership equals upkeep. Someone has to pay the taxes, utilities and insurance. Someone has to mow the lawn.
Plus, the debt for high-ticket items creates a financial, emotional and mental prison that can affect every aspect of your life in a very negative way. Debt and stress will actually affect your family relationships and spiritual life. Don’t let your wants overrule your needs. Give yourself some financial breathing room. Money doesn’t buy happiness…….neither does a maxed out credit card.
Love and family makes a house a home, not granite countertops.
The void we have is a spiritual void, not a physical void. Material things cannot replace a spiritual need. We must turn to Jesus Christ for true peace and contentment. We are spiritual beings. We were created in the image of God.
Stop tweeting for five minutes........embrace your family and tell them you love them. Cherish your true friends. Learn to appreciate the things that are really important, not the things that rust, break down, end up in the dumpster or eventually fall apart.
What is more important.......your health or a garage full of stuff? Think about the time we spend during the course of our lifetime just hauling and moving stuff from one place to another. We buy it, get tired of it, yard sale it, donate it to charity……and start the cycle all over again. Fun….isn’t it? You spent your Saturday having a yard sale when you could have been playing with the kids, hiking through the woods or grilling hamburgers on the patio.
Sometimes, Curtis and I find writers and bloggers who serve as an inspiration. There is a website called Zen Habits that confronts the problem with materialism and clutter. The writer of the blog, Leo Babauta, has an incredible perspective on stuff. He promotes the minimalist lifestyle in such a way that will truly make a person think twice about what is important when it comes to the things we buy and hoard on a daily basis. His emphasis: Less is truly more.
2. Learn to exercise your creativity by using your talents, gifts and abilities. Be willing to explore your interests and hobbies. Put your energy into developing the talents that God gave to you. Don't spend your precious energy trying to keep up with a culture that is desperately trying to empty your wallet. God gave everyone talents, ideas and abilities to be used for His glory.
Who knows? Your talent or ability may be the catalyst to a business that could free you from the job that is driving you crazy. You can turn a hobby into a business. Get creative. Explore.
3. Stop comparing yourself to those who seem to be in a better situation than you. Just because they seem to be successful, have more money or live in a bigger house, doesn’t mean they have a Swiss bank account or an investment in the Cayman Islands. They may be head-over-heels in debt.
Perception and reality can lie at opposite ends of the spectrum.
Don’t compare your style of dress, education or career with your friends, co-workers or next-door neighbors. Everyone is different and unique in their own special way. Celebrate the fact that God made you unique. Everyone has different talents, abilities and educational pursuits. People are mentally and emotionally wired for different jobs and careers. What may work for your friend or neighbor may not work for you.
The world wouldn’t work if everyone was alike.
Everyone is physically different. People have different tastes in clothing. There is nothing more destructive to your psychology than trying to compare yourself to someone else. Learn to appreciate the uniqueness of your individuality and capitalize on your strengths and downplay your weaknesses.
4. Explore the natural things that fascinate and amaze you. Learn to enjoy the beauty of nature. Experiment with gardening. Hang up a few bird feeders in your yard and watch the different species of birds land on your feeder.
Plant some flowers or hang some ferns on the front porch or back deck. Take a walk through the park or the woods. Take a drive through the countryside. Take pictures of a cotton field, a valley or the coastline. Notice the smell of rain before a storm. Don’t be ruled by neon lights, social media and the latest gadget. Don't allow the artificial to overwhelm the natural. Walk outside and breathe.
The Tufted Titmouse on one of our bird feeders
5. Learn to laugh. Learn to laugh at yourself. A sense of humor can get you through some really difficult times. Laughter is truly a gift from God. The Bible says that "a merry heart does good like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones." (Proverbs 17:22)
Stop being so serious about everything. Let your hair down and laugh. Find the humor all around you. Watch a light-hearted, funny movie. For our laughs, we take pictures of funny signs and sometimes post them on our photography site.
We live in an unstable world, constantly dealing with serious issues. But........24/7 doom and gloom will have a very negative impact on your mind. Emotional stress can lead to physical problems. There are times when our minds need a rest from all of the constant bad news, crime reports and political propaganda.
6. Have faith in God. This is the most important. If you are a Christian, you read in the Bible that “without faith, it is impossible to please Him"(Hebrews 11:6). Life is hard. Living without faith is harder. Yes, it’s a supernatural experience to trust that God will answer prayer when you don’t see anything physically transpiring. But, that’s the joy and satisfaction of learning to trust, wait and be content.
Knowing that you’re not alone on life’s journey will help you to take life one day at a time. It will increase your faith. The answer will come.
God may not be early. He’s never late. But, He's always on time.
7. Don’t over-commit yourself.......to meetings, schedules, games, appointments, committees or even good deeds. After all, you’re only one person. Yes, we all want to feel productive; and, if we’re living the Christian life, we obviously want to be community-oriented. We want minister to those around us. We want to press on.
We want to keep the kids busy. We've all heard the old saying, "An idol mind is the devil's workshop". However, in an attempt to discourage laziness or temptations, don’t engage your family in too many activities, especially if they never have time to sit down and rest.
Don’t fill up their calendar every night of the week. Children need to rest and study for school. Husbands, wives and grandparents need to rest and meditate upon the Lord. Even church activities other than services can turn into a tiresome experience if you never take time to rest and renew your spirit. There is definitely such a thing called burnout.
There are 24 hours in day. About eight hours are reserved for sleep. A few hours are reserved for meals, showers and going to the grocery store. About a third of the hours are reserved for work and career or managing a business or ministry.
Keep your life in perspective.
Currently, our culture demands 24/7 busy-ness and 24/7 entertainment. Many husbands and wives pass each other in the driveway. Sometimes, a family can live in the same house and rarely see each other.
On top of this, social media demands that we report our activities with location, date and time. Keep up the stressful pace and you’ll finally have another appointment on your calendar….. with the doctor.
Never neglect your spouse or your family. If the entire family is non-stop busy, you never have time to listen to each other’s needs, hopes and dreams. Why? Because you have to be somewhere in five minutes. Learn to say “No”. Most importantly, don't neglect your time with God.
Your time with God will give you peace on planet crazy.
Keep it in order…….God, family…..and everything else.
It's your decision, though.
Copyright 2012, Norma W. Beaird. All rights reserved.