I've lived this way. I still live this way sometimes although I am learning the emptiness that comes with living dependent on things or on people for my joy. Where I am looking for my happiness? Where do I find joy? What is my hope in? It so easy to be sucked into the trap of believing that acquiring the right toys, being friends with the right people, or that having lots of money will bring me what I want. The phrase "When I have...., then I'll be happy" takes up residency in my heart and robs me of life right now.
Joy, delight, happiness, hope, peace, patience, and even thankfulness don't come from the stuff or even the people in my life but rather from a place deep inside of me. I am learning that it is more about who I am in the midst of my circumstances and less about what I have or don't have. It is a simple shift from "having" to "being."
Sounds simple enough to write about but so much harder to put into practice. The pull of the world around me is strong. I can't do it alone. For me, it is all about the foundation of my life. If I am building my life on the stuff of this world, it is only a matter of time before a storm comes and all of it is washed away leaving me bitter and hopeless. But if my foundation is grounded in something stronger, when the storms come, my joy, hope, delight, and peace remain. The only foundation strong enough to endure all of life's storms is Jesus. "And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?" (Mark 8:36) My soul, the place deep within me that knows Jesus, is the only place I can find true hope, joy, delight, patience, happiness, love, and thankfulness.
In the quiet moments of my day, here are some questions I'm asking myself that are helping me live out the simple, yet difficult practice of being rather than having:
- When am I stopping to be quiet today? If I hit the ground running from the moment my alarm wakes me, I am setting myself up to get sucked into the "having" script that wants to take up residency in my head and in my heart. The practice of being, of building my foundation on Jesus rather then on what I can get in this world is a purposeful and intentional practice all through out my day. For me, it starts in the morning before I do anything else. I read my Bible, pray, and journal. I finish my day by reading my Bible and thanking God for the gifts of today.
- When circumstances come where I feel hurt, disappointed, or short-fused; what "thing" am I looking to fulfill me? Sometimes the simple acknowledgement of the feeling and the root of the feeling is enough for me to remove the faulty foundation from my life...its just that sometimes it takes awhile before I stop and do this!
- How will I practice "being" today, even when things are hard? Let's face it. Life is hard. Sooner or later we will come to a season when life is a struggle. It can be something big like the loss of a job or relationship. It can be something smaller like our kids fighting...all...day...long! I am finding that my prayers are sounding a lot less like the pleas of "change this circumstance" and filled more with the desire of "how can I show that love you have so graciously given me in this situation."