I recently had a reader share with me what she was dealing with. She wrote:
“Lately I have felt like I just keep wishing my life away, always desiring the next thing that is coming and not being satisfied with where I am at and where God has placed me right now.”
She would hardly be the only one who feels this urge for more–an unsettling in our current life situation and a longing for something different.
Jennifer Kennedy Dean wrote in the introduction of her study “Set Apart”,
“Human beings were created with a compelling drive to be happy. God intentionally created that compulsion, embedding it into our nature, as surely as He created everything else about us.”
Many of us have found ourselves in a state of dissatisfaction that leaves us feeling guilty. We’re shamed by Paul’s attitude in Philippians 4: 11-13
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (emphasis mine)
We believe that surely our discontentment is a signal of our failure. The shame and the guilt cause us to hide and run away from our sin. But what if God wants to bring our restlessness out in the open so we can truly learn to enjoy the life we have?
In order to help you work through this list in a practical and interactive way, I’ve created 4 Ways To Set Your Mind on Things Above. This step-by-step guide will help you learn to live above the fray and take back your thought life. *Check It Out Here*
Here are 17 Crazy Compelling Ways to Enjoy The Life You Have (regardless of your circumstances).
1. Draw Near To God
The entire story of Scripture is an invitation for us to draw near to Him–to find our strength, our rest, our identity and our greatest happiness in Him. Unfortunately the same story of the Bible is one of men and women from the beginning of time convinced they can do it on their own.
Seeking happiness our own way is not a new endeavor. It is the cycle of God’s people throughout the course of history.
Have you discovered how exhausting it is to chase after some version of happiness–a promise for fulfillment?
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.–Matthew 11:28
The invitation is right there…God is asking you to draw near and give yourself a break. Enjoying your life in a true form of happiness WILL NOT occur apart from a closeness with God.
Drawing near to God can be scary. For so many of us we have wandered away and we become convinced that if we just jump right back into a relationship with God, we’ll be met with an explosion of condemnation and judgment.
That’s not God’s style. Scripture tells us God didn’t send Jesus into the world to condemn the world but to save it. (John 3:17) This isn’t a boobie-trap.
Drawing near means you talk to God. It’s called prayer and we often try to over-complicate it. If you called a girlfriend on the phone, how would you talk to her? Would you tell her about the crazy traffic, the funny article you read and even your concerns? That’s what prayer is. It’s talking to God.
Drawing near means you listen for God to speak to you. God speaks through His Word, His people and our situations. God is speaking. Into the darkness of our lives. He speaks. Through the waves of our doubts, He speaks. God is speaking. Are you actively seeking to hear from God by drawing near or are you hoping you’ll hear from Him from a distance?
In order to really enjoy the life you have, you have to start with taking the dare to draw near to God.
2. Enjoy the Benefit of Grace Over the Burden of Perfection
Perfectionism comes from a place of believing you’re not good enough.
I want you to catch the irony here. Grace is available because…guess what? You’re not good enough.
The problem is we repeat the cycle of God’s people by trying to independently meet our needs apart from God. We try to prove that we are, in fact, good enough.
Scripture tells us that “it is by grace you have been saved through faith–not of our yourself.” (Eph. 2:8).
We throw around the term “God’s grace” rather casually sometimes. Without acknowledging that the effects of God’s grace we forfeit the benefit in our lives. God’s grace is synergistic–meaning it can accomplish more when we yield to it than when we separate ourselves from it’s power and try to do life on our own.
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.–1 Cor. 15:10
Do you sense a burden to perform for yourself, for others, for God? What keeps you from enjoying the advantages of God’s grace at work in you?
3. Deal With Your Thought Life
Our minds constantly receive messages from all different directions. We receive messages from our past, from our culture, from our church, from our family and so on and so on. Our brains work to categorize those messages based on their validity and the way our minds have been trained to comprehend them.
When you throw emotions on top of a flood of messages, our thoughts become complicated. However, it is in the center of our thought life where we determine our level of satisfaction with our lives.
Our level of satisfaction is based not only on our circumstances but our perception of those circumstances as well as our perception of ourselves.
Colossians 3:2 says to “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
So, how do you set your mind on things above? Find out here with 4 Ways to Set Your Mind on Things Above!!!
4. Allow God to Redeem and Use Your Broken Places to Create Something Beautiful
God is not afraid of your broken places–where you came from or what you have done. Your past and your pain is your greatest platform for God to do reach those in desperate need of Him.
But too many of us are sin snobs–unwilling to let God in to the ugly places because we’re convinced our sin is beyond even God.
One of the most precious characteristics about God is His keen ability to turn beauty from ashes. God can turn your worst day into your best day and make it the same day if you allow Him access to your brokenness.
5. Want What You Have By Recognizing What You Have
In this obsession with
The things this world says make us happy
Can’t see the slaves we are
In all the searching, all the grasping
Like we deserve much more
Than all these blessings we’re holding
I sat in my car and the those final lines rang in my ear. “…all the grasping like we deserve much more than all these blessings we’re hold.” Ughh…straight to the heart.
Instead of recognizing the blessings I’m holding, I feel entitled to something more…my definition of happy.
Is your dissatisfaction a result of an ungrateful heart? Do you need to spend time acknowledging what you DO have instead of what you don’t
6. Stop Comparing Your Chapter 4 With Someone Else’s Chapter 19.
It’s hard for most of us to imagine that our own personal story matters. I mean, really? There are others who have so much better stories, right? Wrong.
There are people with different stories, living in different seasons and places. When we compare our story with theirs, discontentment breeds in our hearts.
As your story unfolds, have you put a period where God intends a comma?
God isn’t done with you. You may think you are at chapter 19 when God knows you’re only at chapter 4.
Did you know that God wants to use your story to continue writing His BIG story?
Instead of looking at someone else’s story and comparing it to your own, why don’t you ask God to show you what’s next in the story? Why don’t you hand Him the pen and let Him continue to write a story that truly matters–Yours.
I talk more about how to do this in 4 Ways to Set Your Mind on Things Above!
7. Readjust Your Expectations
Let’s talk expectations for a second. Expectations are standards we place on ourselves and each other.
Expectations are what help us make sense of life. Our brains find comfort in knowing “what to expect.” Expectations in and of themselves are not wrong until they become a weighty burden we (and those we love) are incapable of carrying.
God has an answer for the expectations put upon us by ourselves and others. It’s called Grace!
Grace gives us permission to do what we can do and let God fill in the gaps.
Where do you need to re-adjust your expectations? Have you so firmly set the course that there is not room for God to intervene and fill in the gaps with His power?
Loosen your grasp on YOUR plans and expectations. Breathe in the safety of a Savior who can handle such a weighty burden.
8. Embrace Hard Things Knowing They Make You Strong, More Compassionate and Wise
It just so happens that the morning I sat down to write this point, our air conditioner isn’t’ working. When you live in Central Texas, there isn’t really a good time to go without air conditioning.
As I sat down to meet with God this morning, he brought to my mind, the benefit of being uncomfortable. God uses our discomfort to teach us how to die to our sin nature. Our natural response to discomfort is to avoid it at all cost. We go into defensive modes of retreating into familiar places of comfort.
Yet, growth rarely happens in the comfortable. It is in the seasons of stretching, buckling down and digging in that we discover there is more. There is more of God’s Spirit to enjoy, there is more refining to be done and there is more grace to be learned.
The closer I walk with God, the more I recognize importance of embracing the difficult and uncomfortable. By identifying the hard seasons as God’s work in our lives, we discover the beauty of what we call “sanctification.” God is ripping away those parts of us that poorly reflect His character and He is transforming us into images of Himself.
What would it be like if we re-trained our brains to not automatically flee from the hard but take a step back and look for how God is at work in and through our circumstances.
“…you don’t fight circumstances but your interpretation of those circumstances.”
Ask God to help you interpret the hard stuff according to His plans and purposes for your life.
9. Own Who You Are
Psalm 139 says you are fearfully and wonderfully made. God created every inch of you and endowed you with some amazing skills, unique talents and a personality that is customized to you. But let’s be honest, you’re not good at everything. Neither am I. But I’m not–not good at everything either. There are things I rock at and so do you. There are things I stink at and so do you. That’s totally okay.
Instead of labeling yourself a loser because you don’t have the same skill set, personality or talents as someone else doesn’t disqualify the skill set, talents and amazing personality you do have. In fact, you are a custom creation designed to accomplish something very specific. Own it and go accomplish the very thing God made you to do.
10. Address Your Value
The world tells you your worth comes in all sorts of forms–your bra size, your waist size and your pant size, the designer you carry on your arm or your relational status with men. The world tells you value comes from the size of your platform, the size of your house, the size of your calling or the size of your family.
But God assigns value differently. He says you matter. He says you are accepted, beautiful, worth it. God sees you just as He saw the discarded Hagar and He wants you–every ugly, shameful part of you.
I’m not sure about you but this one is hard for me. Despite knowing the truth, I still glance over to the world for a nod of approval. I want to evidence that I’m of value. That glance is the fuel, the invitation for the Enemy to whisper deceit, discouragement and shame into my heart.
Do you see yourself as God sees you? Have you claimed the value He placed upon you? Ask God to open your eyes to show you what He sees when He looks at you. To read more about seeing yourself as God sees you, check out this article.
11. Live On Purpose Making Your Days Count
What if you got pregnant and then gave birth the very next day? Can you even imagine? No, because the very idea of pregnancy is the idea of daily growth–a season when every day counts.
Did you know you were created with a very special assignment? Ephesians 2:10 confirms that you were. You have a purpose and, though, every day may not be eventful (such as the day you actually deliver a baby), every day matters. Every day matters because there is power in the little by little.
As a (recovering) overachiever, I always want to be done yesterday. I rarely appreciate the journey because I’m so focused on the destination. However, God got a hold of me several years ago and impressed upon my heart to give account for my faithfulness with TODAY. When I began considering what faithfulness with TODAY looked like, I discovered my life became pregnant with meaning. I was fulfilled in the present and enjoying life more completely.
12. Be Present
From the moment we are born, we are given the gift of time. A undetermined amount of time to do something. And what do we do? We waste it. We waste the time we have by not looking the present full in the face and breathing it in. Instead, we linger in the past or yearn for the future.
We shake off the reality of the present not taking in what is actually happening. It is scary to be present and invested in the moment. It is easier to be in some other dimension of time living the good ol’ days or waiting for the next spectacular event. But taking in the present (event the uncomfortable, painful parts) you allow yourself to truly live and essentially enjoy the life you have.
13. Expect and Embrace Messy
It is possible that I may be the only one but for some reason I don’t expect life to get messy. Well, I do now because I’ve lived a little. But when I got married and started a family, I expected it to be much more neat and tidy than it actually is.
The facts are that life is messy. People, ministry, families–it’s all messy. When that reality hit me square in the face I was devastated–mainly because I was unprepared. Without turning into a negative Nellie, expect things to get messy realizing there is a message inside every mess.
Just as I mentioned in #8, when we choose to embrace the hard, messy stuff, we position ourselves to grow and be transformed.
14. Consciously Choose to Fight for Joy
I recently read a story that struck me:
A man in his early 90s lost his wife of 60 years. Realizing he could no longer care for himself, he decided it was time to move into a nursing home. On the morning of his first day, he arrived at eight o’clock sharp, neatly dressed and clean-shaven, with his hair meticulously in place. Legally blind, he sat for many hours in the lobby patiently waiting for his appointment.
When he was finally told where his room was, he smiled sweetly and began to maneuver his walker toward the elevator. While en route, the attendant escorting the elderly gentleman provided a verbal description of his tiny room. After hearing a brief assessment of the room’s contents, the new tenant enthusiastically replied, “I love it.”
Surprised at his response, the employee said, “Mr. Brown, you haven’t even seen the room; just wait.” Without missing a beat, the man replied, “That doesn’t have anything to do with it. Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn’t depend on how the furniture is arranged…it’s how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it. It’s a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do. Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open I’ll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I’ve stored away, just for this time in my life.”
Paul challenged us to be “exceedingly joyful in all…tribulation,” (2 Corinthians 7:4). Because God’s grace is more than sufficient, we must intentionally choose to allow His strength to rise above our weakness.
15. Don’t Miss The Opportunity to Celebrate
Celebrations can come in all sort of sizes and shapes. Celebrate victories, birthdays, a job well done or Tuesday. Celebrate. Individuals that truly enjoy the life they already have make a point to celebrate the good.
There are plenty of hard seasons, difficult circumstances and times when you just have to dig in and get it done. But what about the moments when it all comes together, you survived or you woke up this morning?
Choosing to celebrate changes our perspective!
What can you celebrate today? How are you going to celebrate it?
16. Cultivate Community
What does it meant to cultivate community?
Cultivating community means to intentionally seek to built relationships with those around you for the purpose of encouragement and support.
You cultivate community by being authentic and open. People don’t want to be a project so approach individuals with a genuine interest in them personally. Let down your guard, invite them your home and your life. Let them see your imperfections. By inviting people in, you create a safe place for them to not be okay. Openly communicate your personal struggles and stories while being sensitive to their needs and unique stories. Showing genuine concern with transparency is engaging.
17. Stop Buying More Stuff
This one may seem like it comes somewhere from left field. Stop buying more stuff? How does that help anyone enjoy the life they already have?
For those of us who live in a western culture, consumption is king. We are trained to be consumer and to accumulate as much as we can.
Follow me for a second, do you remember when the Israelites demanded a king in the Old Testament. They were convinced a king would provide them with security and comfort. Instead, a king enslaved them by demanding their labor, their goods, their allegiance.
The promise of security and comfort given by material things deceives and enslaves us. You don’t need more stuff…you need more Jesus. There is always more Jesus to be had…go after Him for a the true promise of blessing and happiness.