Friday, March 14, 2014

Story of Life

Psalm 1

Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.
Our lives tell a story.  The sort of story it tells us really up to us.  It isn't up to our geography, our parents, our jobs, or any of that.  It is shaped by our deliberate choices.  Every day we are faced with a series of choices that can have profound effects on every single moment that follows.  Sometimes they are little changes, like, blue shirt or red shirt today.  Other times they are huge, like job we will take or how we will respond to a crisis.
But the biggest influencer on our story is the people we associate with.  Our interpersonal relationships will dramatically define the picture of our lives.  Hang out with criminals, you will probably get arrested.  Hang out with straight A students, you will probably get better grades.  It's why parents are always so concerned about the type of friends their kids have.  It is not that we don't "like" a certain kid, but because we know from our own lives that we are so influenced by our peers. 
Our son is only 4 and in preschool.  There are so many things he says and does now that are completely unique to our family dynamic.  It is so easy to see where these phrases and behaviors come from.  Now, he is only 4, and so are his school friends, so it is all just silly and innocent.  But already, as a preschooler, we can recognize how the relationships he is building are beginning to shape his personality.
The people in your life, for good and bad, are going to shape you profoundly.  Who are you letting into your counsel?

Have you ever had a job that is "ok", and then you make a friend at work who hates it?  How long before you start participating in their cynicism and disdain for the job  and your boss?  It happens.  When you surround yourself and invest in positive role models, you're attitude begins to reflect that as well. 

When we evaluate our relationships we have to be willing to ask ourselves, is this person's life, behavior, attitude, relationships, etc, an example of what I want to strive for myself.  This doesn't mean we don't have friendships with people who have problems, it just means we have to be careful about the kind of influence we allow them to bear in our lives. 

And then we also have to ask ourselves who ARE the people whose behavior, attitudes, relationships etc, are that which I would love to have myself.   Then, we have to seek them out, not just to "learn" but to have a relationship with.  It will shape us naturally. 

Here are some areas to get serious about how your story will be told:

1) Your Job/School:  Are the people you primarily spend time with cynical and grumpy, or, positive and encouraging.

2)  Family:  Do your friends talk bad about their family all the time, or, do they speak with love and grace(even when their family isn't perfect)?

3)  Your Kids:  It is the attitude Du Jour today to speak with exasperation about childhood and parenthood.  While, at times it is ok to express the frustration that parenting can bring, is that all you talk about?  Or, are your relationships with other parents shaped by positive and encouraging thoughts about kids and life as parents? 

4)  Marriage:  What do the romantic relationships of your associates look like?  Are they committed, selfless, giving, encouraging?  Or, are they broken, selfish, taking, discouraging?  If the majority of the input we receive is from people who have unhealthy relationships, it will negatively influence our relationships.  Marriage is already a challenge, are we being encouraged and built up, or,....the opposite. 

God is no dummy.  When the Truth of Psalm 1 was written He knew exactly how we are made and how we are influenced.  Ask yourself, is your life one that could be described as being fruitful, peaceful and good.  The reverse is detailed later in the chapter, empty, hurting and destructive.  And you know what the defining difference between those two extremes are?  The people we allow to influence us. 

Do you want to have a life of hope and encouragement?  Surround yourself with people who are full of hope and encouragement!  Start telling a new and better story.


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