The past few weeks I have noticed a definite difference in my outlook on life. Just one short month ago, I was having a really tough time shaking off the doldrums. (Funny word, doldrums...sounds as depressing as it is.)
Life hadn't been going the way I thought it would and I was stuck in the place of "Why-ning". No, I didn't say whining, although the two are very close both in sound and meaning. I said WHY-ning, where you constantly find yourself asking, "Why?" Why didn't I get that job that I thought was so right? Why are younger people moving forward in their careers so much faster than I am? In a recent discussion with a friend, I also heard another familiar "why." Why aren't we at a place where we can retire? We thought we'd be better off by now! Oh, how many times have I heard myself ask that one!
Now, I don't think God minds us asking why, but when we get stuck in the why mode, it's like we being stuck in mud! It slows you down or stops you completely! All these "whys" tend to build and build and before you know it, you are living in the doldrums. Evidently the road to the doldrums is paved in muddy whys and they are EASY to get stuck in.
Somewhere in all this, however, I decided that God must have a reason why, whether I understood it or not. He knows what He has planned for me, plans for good and not for evil, plans for a hope and a future. I don't have to know exactly how He'll do things for that plan to come about. What I have to do is change my "why" to "what."
Instead of sitting in one place (or walking round and round that same old mountain of why,) I ask, "What is it You would have me do today where I am?" What can I do to make where I am a better place right now.
I noticed a difference the day I was walking out of class and saw a straw wrapper laying on the ground. I almost walked past it, but instead turned and picked it up. Such a small thing, but it made that tiny spot a little better for us all. I noticed I felt a little better, too. Maybe this was indeed the key.
Then I started thinking about the place I am in my career. No, it's not where I thought I'd be, but evidently it is where God wants me. (I have to admit, getting notes from a parent of a former student and from a former student DEFINITELY brought a tear to my eye and a smile to my lips. Being able to be in a class with instructors who imparted not only lessons but life helped a WHOLE lot, too!) Slowly, I started to let go of "why" and instead focused on "what" - what can I do where I am?
This past Sunday, as if the pastor was reading my mind, he talked about Jacob. Here, in a very small nutshell, are a few of the notes I took from his sermon.
#1 - Jacob was not in a perfect place, but he made a difference. Anyone can make a difference.
#2 - Everyone SHOULD make a difference. (How do I want to be remembered?)
#3 - I can trust the promises of God because He does not lie.
#4 - I will be productive...well, if I shake off those muddy doldrums I will be.
#5 - I am meant to be a blessing where He places me.
There is a LOT more to the sermon including that I need to live my life for an audience of One - the Lord! Wherever I am, He is - therefore I make a difference!
At one point, the pastor said something about the story of Jacob's ladder and it really struck me that it applies to my story as well. He said something along the lines of we need to let the story take us where it wants to take us and stop trying to make the story what we want it to be. Same thing in my life. I am so much happier when I stop trying to MAKE my story what I think it should be and simply live each day where God has placed me with joy.
I am reminded of the story of Moses at the burning bush when God asked him, "What is in your hand?" It's not "What will be in your hand," or "What can you dream is in your hand," or even "What can you believe for to be in your hand." It's simply use what I've put in your hand.
I'll be honest. I'm still working on this, especially when I see someone else much younger than me moving into careers I thought were the ones I was to have...but then I'm not looking at what is in my hand, I'm looking at what I think should be there. The thing is, now I know the cure. I'll replace my "Why-ning" with "What-ing."
Each morning I think I'll ask myself, "Now WHAT can I do today to make the world a brighter place for Him? (Hmmm, I just noticed how much what sounds like watt!) The more I think about it, the more I think I like WHAT a whole lot better than WHY...and what-ing feels a whole lot better than why-ning any day.
Jeremiah 29:11 (MSG)
I know what I’m
doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon
you, plans to give you the future you hope for.
Genesis 28: 10 - 22 (NIV)
Jacob’s Dream at Bethel
10 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran. 11 When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. 12 He had a dream
in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching
to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 There above it stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. 15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”