In the past few months I have had the opportunity to interact with a gentleman who has challenged my faith. I am a Christian, not the best of the bunch, more of the type that is constantly reminding you to not judge because they have so many things they can be judged on. I tend to complain a lot. Especially lately. I have complained about the things that went wrong in the past, the things that are wrong and the things that will go wrong in the future.
Gentleman reminded me about the lessons I learnt early in life about living the thankful lifestyle. Maybe, I have built a house in my spirit where all the bad things that have happened to me live. Every time I want to say I am glad good things are happening, the size of the house reminds me of all the pain I might have endured.
Our past experiences color our actions today. We make decisions based on what has happened in the past. According psychology implicit memory uses our experiences to remember things without actually thinking about them. It maybe that house in my spirit that reminds me that, “anytime I have been excited about a new opportunity I have failed to achieve my goal”. That wound that tears open every time you try to move forward in your life. Implicit memory is a good check on behavior. It cautions you when you are about to do something stupid. But when you dwell in the dark little house in your soul where hope goes to die, it cripples you. It destroys the good in you. The fact that you were hurt, or conned before does not mean everyone you meet is planning to do the same.
Back to gentleman. He said that at the end of everyday it helps to think about three things you are thankful for and make one request of God. It made me think about my prayers. Lately, I think God has not enjoyed our pre-bedtime talks. I complain and barely listen. Yes, it sounds like I am making a long list of requests but in truth it is complaining. And it has made me think of my more thankful persona. No, the change has not been because of COVID19, I have complained for two years about how badly my life has been going. I did a bit to change things but I could have done more but I was too focused on what I didn’t have. On what others had but I had been denied.
Habbakuk 3: 17-18
This is my all time favorite bible verse. I am diabetic, if you been here before you know that. When I first got diagnosed, the idea of “in all things be thankful” was difficult. I yelled at my doctor so much, he cried… Well my 15 year old self likes to think that. But I had a stammering issue, so he might have been biting his tongue really hard so he did not laugh. To my teenage self in that moment and for at least a year, I hated what I called “keeping me alive with medicine”. But then with time, I made my peace with it. I had medicine, food and shelter. At the time a months supply of insulin cost about Kshs 2000 so it was a big deal. In my late 20s I stumbled into Habbakuk 3:17-18. And it taught me that I could love God with or without getting stuff.
We do not have faith in God because he gives us stuff. Our faith should go beyond the stuff we have, the stuff we could get through God. Remember, it is your responsibility to get stuff. God blesses the work of your hands. So whether there are no grapes on the vine, no sheep in your pen or cattle in your stalls, don’t complain. I am not saying that you shouldn’t have stuff and should celebrate lack. No, I am saying being bitter about it, will gain you nothing. It will muddy your soul and your prayers will no longer unburden you.
The 3:1 Lifestyle
I want to go back to being more thankful. There is power in positive thinking as Norman Vincent Peale says. Even if you do not get everything you want, Vincent Peale argues that focusing on the good helps you see yourself succeeding even when you have just experienced failure. Think about Thomas Edison, he said that he did not fail 1000 times but that making a light bulb required 1000 steps. Taking that kind of positive approach is good for you, body, mind and soul. You develop a healthier self image and are more likely to pursue challenging tasks, make new friends and become more successful in your romantic endeavors. In prayer, say three things you are thankful for and make one request. As Rumi put it “If you only say one prayer in a day make it Thank You”.
In the words of the gentleman, cast your burdens unto Jesus. Let the past, the failure, the pain go. Free yourself by giving it up to one whose yoke is easy and his burden light. Even if you do not believe in a higher power, demolish that house of pain in your soul, let it all go so that you can face the future happier and unburdened.