Have you ever found yourself in your normal routine and you’re doing something you used to like, but you realize you don’t like it anymore? That’s not a happy situation, so what can we do to make it better?
Step one is to admit we don’t like it. “How does the situation make you feel?” We’re not going to make hasty decisions based on feelings, but we’re not going to deny them either. Feelings are just that, feelings. They aren’t good or bad. The devil didn’t invent emotions. God gave them to us. Like a barometer, they’re good for monitoring our atmospheric pressure.
We need to openly admit that something has changed in the activity or something has changed in us to make us feel unhappy with what we’re doing. If we’re going to move ahead with a healthy attitude, there’s no more room for pretending that everything is okay. Step one: How does the activity make us feel?
Step two is to take a good look at the activity and answer a few simple questions. Often we float through activities without giving them much thought. I was involved in a weight loss program for several years. I reached my goal weight, kept it off and developed good eating habits. There came the point when I felt like I wasn’t learning anything new, and the flavor of the weekly meetings soured.
My friend Miki kept asking, “Why are you still going? You don’t need to.” I’d give her some lame answer and just kept on going. Sometimes other people see us better than we see ourselves, so when we’re serious about examining our activities, trusted friends can help. We may be doing something only out of habit, and not because it’s advancing us to a better place.
In Quantum physics, atoms consist of electrons orbiting around a nucleus. The electrons exist in a wave state, like a cloud, whirling about the nucleus. That is until it’s observed. When the scientist observes it, suddenly the electron appears as a particle and no longer a wave. It can be like that with our lives—things, activities, people and ideas all whirling about us in obscure cloud-like forms. They don’t show their true nature until we take the time to observe them. Then things become clear.
In step two, we take a closer look at the disagreeable activity and ask a few simple questions. “Why do I feel this way now, when I didn’t before?” “Has the activity changed?” “Have I changed?” Once we answer these questions, we’re ready to move on to Step three.
In step three we ask ourselves, “Even though I’m unhappy with this activity now, is it moving me toward my goals?”
If it’s not, then it’s time to pray about dropping it. Some things will be okay to drop right away. With other matters, the Holy Spirit may direct us to wait or take baby steps toward leaving the activity behind. Praying for the Lord’s guidance will be essential.
In First Corinthians 12 we learn that God is willing to give us a word of knowledge and a word of wisdom. Knowledge tells us what’s going on, and wisdom tells us what to do about it. Both of these are available from God to us. But if we still have some doubts about whether we should keep doing the activity or let it go, then we need to go on to the next and final step four.
Step four is the last step. We ask the question, “Are the benefits of this activity worth the pain to stay with it?” Jesus said, “For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?” (Luke 14:28 & 31).
Make a list of the benefits, then a list of the detriments to staying with this activity. We prayerfully take the time to weigh the worth.
We’re a quarter way through 2019. It’s a good time to examine our goals and the activities we’re doing in light of those goals.
We ask ourselves, “What are my major goals: in relationships, in work, in exercise, health, spiritual matters, finances, entertainment, relaxation, hobbies, and special interests?”
Then we take each category and observe the activities around each. We make those activities stop swirling like a cloud and instead become clear like the electron particles of an atom, with observation. Did we find any extremely unsatisfying activities? Then we carefully go through the four steps to change the circumstances.
Step One: How does the activity make me feel?
Step Two: What has changed?
Step Three: Is the activity putting me closer to my goal? If not, how do I drop it?
Step Four: Is this activity worth the cost?
God wants us to live a satisfied life, and that means changing things up every once in a while to get ourselves to a better place.
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