Past experiences can shape you for a lifetime. If your parents repeatedly said you never would amount to anything, you’ll probably always feel like a failure regardless of how successful you are. If classmates made fun of your weight, you’ll most likely never feel good about how you look regardless of how you look. If your childhood church heaped guilt upon you for simply being human, there’s a good chance you’ll always have a vague sense you’ve done something wrong regardless of what you do right. But there’s something that can change all of this – God’s love. It’s love that is unconditional. Love infinitely more powerful than all your bad experiences lumped together. And love that is the single most important reality in life. So don’t wait a moment longer. Let God drown out a lifetime of negativity.
It takes having a goal, working hard to achieve it and being persistent in the face of adversity to be successful. But even doing all of these things well is no a guarantee of success. Sometimes because life just happens. At other times because things get complicated in unexpected ways. And perhaps most significantly and surprisingly, because people often end up sabotaging themselves. While you can’t change the attitude, control the actions or cause people who do these things to act differently, you can do something. Or, more precisely, God and you can do something together: pray without ceasing, be compassionate, share honestly and never stop loving. You may wonder whether this is enough. Well it is. In fact, it’s more than enough. Because it’s when you trust the power of God that you start seeing miracles.
God doesn’t cause horrible things to happen, remain unaffected when they do or need them to occur as part of “God’s plan”. But horrible things do happen. So when they do, God doesn’t allow a single one to go to waste. This may sound crazy – even impossible – and it certainly doesn’t address the root cause of evil. But it does something far more important. It enables you to experience how God takes whatever happens and uses it for God’s good exactly because God is more concerned about your future than your past. But while God is doing most of the heavy lifting, you also have an essential role to play. You have to trust God enough to work in ways you never would have considered. And when you do, you’ll begin to experience how a nice-sounding idea actually becomes life’s most powerful reality.
It may often seem life is just an exercise in surviving. Which means you can easily forget that God actually has created you to spend your life thriving. But God is so serious about this that God helps it become a reality by sharing the fullness of divine unconditional love, offering you the gift of an eternal relationship with God that begins right now, and working with you to embody God’s generosity, compassion, integrity, meaning, hope and joy. When you get this, it changes how you understand yourself. When you embrace it, you begin to let God define for you what matters most of all. And when you live it, you thrive every single day in spite of what’s going on around you. This isn’t some attempt to flee from real life. It is real life. And God wants you to start thriving right now.
Sometimes you do it to yourself, while at other times someone else does it to you. Regardless, the result is almost always the same. You end up feeling foolish and wondering whether others will take you seriously. Sure, there are times when what happens is very serious, and you need to treat it as such. But that’s not usually the case. Which is why you need to see the moments you would rather forget as wonderful gifts that can help you put things in perspective, cause you to realize you can’t take yourself nearly as seriously as you’re prone to do and help you discover yet again that what truly matters most in life is God. So what should you do when your next awkward moment happens? Take a deep breath. Thank God for grace that is the best thing ever. And get back to laughing, loving, living and serving.