Spots and Smudges

"Don't you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize?  So run to win!" (NLT) 1 Co 9:24

“Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!” (NLT) 1 Co 9:24

The other day I decided that it was well past the time for me to wash the outside of my windows and glass panels on my balcony.  As soon as I washed them there was a noticeable difference.  I could clearly see through the glass now without the familiar filter of a years worth of  green gunk and grime, oh and spider deification (yes spiders poop).  I was feeling pretty good about the progress I was making.  As I continued down the length of glass panels I looked back at the ones that were drying and noticed that there were spots and smudges that I had inadvertently missed during my first go.  So I went back to the first and started again. At almost the same spot down the line of glass panels I noticed that once again I could see spots and smudges on some of the panels that I had just done for the second time. So I decided that this time I would get a heavy-duty cleaning cloth, you know, the ones with the mesh on one side and really give the glass a good scrubbing and a good rinse with the garden hose set on jet (there is no better setting than jet on a nozzle).  As I sat inside my house after doing them all that third time I noticed that there were still spots and smudges that I could see on the glass panels.  At this point I decided to try to ignore the imperfections of my well intended cleaning endeavour (’cause I was exhausted) and made a note to self to hire someone to do this job the next time around.

"My focus remains short of its goal..."

“My focus remains short of its goal…”

Tell me, is there ever a time when one can truly remove each spot and smudge and have glass so pure that it shines without one blemish?  I have in the past had professionals clean my windows for me and even they leave streaks and miss places. I look out at the job that I did on my glass panels and outside windows and think that it isn’t good enough. Wow, where did that thought come from?  Didn’t I just work myself to the bone (slight exaggeration) trying to remove all the spots and smudges?  Why am I so focused on a few spots left over?  Why can’t I be satisfied with the job that I did and think job well done instead of “not good enough”?   Never mind that I have managed to remove a years worth of green gunk and grime, never mind that I have a clearer view…all I can focus on is the few spots and smudges. Yet still I look out at these panels of glass and think, it’s not good enough.  I can’t seem to focus on the whole and look beyond the spots and smudges to the beauty of the golf course.  My focus remains short of its goal. Instead it remains stuck on the foreground viewing the spots and smudges.

"God doesn't want our focus to be on the spots and smudges..."

“God doesn’t want our focus to be on the spots and smudges…”

I can’t help but wonder how often I do this in other parts of my life, focus on the foreground and miss the beauty beyond the spots and smudges.  Do I remain stuck in the foreground and miss opportunities that God would want to bless me with?  Do I have a shorten sight line because I am so focused on the foreground and believing that “it” what ever “it” is, isn’t good enough?  Does this inability or difficulty to look beyond the imperfection of things hinder me in viewing myself as God views me?  Do I somehow equate this belief of “it” as being not good enough to mean that I am not good enough?  How many times have I, have we accepted less than what was intended for us?  God doesn’t want our focus to be on the spots and smudges but on the goal which is to run the race of life to win. To be all that He created us to be and to stop focusing on our spots and smudges.  He doesn’t see these imperfections so why should we?

Here’s to running the Race to win and not trying to prove our worth by how perfect we do our jobs or live our lives.

A case of The Should’s With a Touch of The If Only

A case of "The Should's and If Only" is like telling yourself that you should have scaled the wall of the Hoover Dam.

A case of “The Should’s and If Only” is like telling yourself that you should have scaled the wall of the Hoover Dam.

Recently I went out to coffee with a friend who called me out once again about living in the world of “should’s”. Anyone out there with me in this? How about those of you who look back on certain life situations and say “if only”?  Well my friend, I hate to break it to you but you have the same “illness” that I have.  You have the Should’s with a touch of the If Only.

What does it mean for us who have this way of thinking?  Well for me it means that I struggle with bouts of self-doubt and guilt from time to time.  It especially rears its ugly head when I’m confronted with issues that my children go through or when I’m being particularly hard on myself.  It is in times like these that I say either out loud to another person or silently to myself, “If only I had seen that coming.”; “If only I was more available to my children.”; “If only I prayed more with them.”; “If only….If only….”. Then when the should’s hit it’s, “I should have tried to stop that from happening.”; “I should have said something, then that wouldn’t have happened.”; “I should have listened then I could have saved them from that… .”  Man, I’m exhausted already and I’m just writing down general thoughts.

Don’t think that this “illness” applies to you?  That is great. However before you dismiss this do a little test and pay attention to how many times you think similar thoughts to these and how many times when you are talking to someone you use the phrase, “You should….”.  Then take another look at yourself.  I’m thinking that more people have this “illness” than not. Perhaps I’m just hoping that I’m not the only one out there, but I’m taking a guess that I’m not alone. 🙂

OK then, you say, I have this way of thinking in grained in my head.  So what’s the big deal? Well, again I can speak for myself.  I have spent so many hours that I’m sure it equals up to years of wasted time in my life worrying and fretting over situations and choices that I have made and that other’s have made that I could never fix or have any control over.  Here’s the deal.  All my worrying and feeling guilty was a false sense of the belief that I am or was wholly responsible for the outcome to someone else’s choices. Note that I said wholly responsible.  I’m not at the place yet that I can’t take on or “own” what is mine to take on.  But here’s the thing…it wasn’t or isn’t wholly my doing.  In fact there is something called free will out there.  Ever heard of it?  Where we all have the ability to choose?  Believe it or not even our children have it.  AND they make choices in life according to this free will.  These choices that they make are THEIR choices. (I’m referring to children who are old enough to responsibly make life choices).  

My mother would tell me that hindsight is 20/20.  How true!  I look back and think, “If only I could have done this and this again I would have done it differently.”  Really!  If I were to go back in time I wouldn’t have the wisdom and knowledge that I have today.  I would still have the same understanding at that time and consequently would likely repeat the situation the same way and make the same decisions.  Then when it comes to the should’s, “I say to myself I should have tried…”.  But here’s the thing.  I’m assuming that I have power that I don’t possess.  Really, how many times is the word “I” used in these self depreciating statements?  Do I really think that I have the kind of power that would change someone else’s free will to make their own decisions?  I cannot control the outcomes for other people.  I can’t save them from mistakes that they made or are going to make.  This is not my place or my role.  Only God has the ability to change people’s hearts and save them from life choices that are not what He intended for them to make.  He still doesn’t stop us from making these choices, hence free will.  However He is the one who can help us through the consequences of the negative circumstances that arise out of some of the choices that we make.

So what am I doing when I worry and fret over things that I have done or not done.  I in essence am not trusting that God has my back.  Or that He will guide and protect my children.  Or that just as He has saved me numerous times over the course of my life, He will save others the same way.  I am thinking that I am more in control of situations than God is and frankly that is definitely NOT the case.

What this means is that I have a false sense of responsibility.  I am believing that I have power that I don’t possess. (Nor, if truth be told would I want to posses).  I still have remnants of thoughts that my worth is tied up in what other’s think of me instead of what God thinks of me.  Phew…I’m exhausted!  But this time my exhaustion is not one that is going to tear me down but instead lift me up.  I have a bit of pep in my step and today I am going to once again choose to trust God.

How about you?  Are you ready to get rid of your case of The Should’s with a touch of the If Only?

Here’s to choosing to trust God.