Friday, October 30, 2015

I Minimize the Power of My Emotions

“Emotions can help you, and they can hurt you, but you have no say in the matter until you understand them,” said Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves.[1]


Many of us know that our emotions are a force, but we are not sure how to deal with them. Our brains give priority to our feelings. Our sight, sound, smells, taste, and touch flow throw the emotional part of our brains, the amygdala, before it reaching the rational part, the frontal lobe. Emotions are first in line.


Many of us have experienced pain in our lives that is unearthed by a variety of triggers. Emotional or physical abuse or trauma may surface in an instant. Certain circumstances or situations evoke stress. Knowing your triggers and having a close relationship with God through prayer will help you respond rather than react to difficult emotional situations.


Emotions are unavoidable. Emotions are contagious. Like a rock tossed into a lake, our behaviors influence those around us. Our emotions can have a tremendous impact on our family, coworkers, and friends.


1. Be aware of the power of your emotions.


You have experienced overwhelming grief, intense anger, and dark depression. These emotions may hijack your ability to think clearly. However, knowing the potential crippling emotions can bring will help you deal with the impact. A great Bible passage to keep in mind is from the writing of James.


James 1:19-25 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.


James points out the essential quality of reasoning through the lens of the Scripture instead of reacting with raw emotion.


Proverbs 14:17a A man of quick temper acts foolishly.


Several years ago, I was in a tense meeting around a table. Someone made a comment that hurt my pride immensely. I took the comment to heart. My face turned bright red. I raised my voice and shook my finger at the person who aroused my anger. I looked like a fool. If I had only done as James said and looked into the mirror of Scripture, realizing my shortcomings, I would have avoided that awful scene.


When we allow our emotions to rule, we “deceive ourselves.” We are not living by the Scriptures; we are giving free reign to our base instincts.  Believers are to receive God’s Word into the soil of our hearts. God’s Word is the “implanted” Word. God’s Word shows us how to follow Jesus. It produces the fruit of salvation and righteousness. God’s Word shows us reality.


The Bible tells us to be swift to hear and slow to speak. We have two ears and one mouth. We must remind ourselves to listen more than we speak. Our anger does not produce righteousness. Delaying our response and living by reason instead of reaction requires patience. When we learn to live patiently, our lives may be complete.


James 1:3-4  For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.


2. Be conscious of your limited supply of emotional energy.


We each have a reservoir of spiritual and emotional energy. This inner reservoir is not limitless or self-replenishing. When the well of emotions is depleted, we will eventually burn out.


Burnout is sometimes experienced like the phenomenon of a sinkhole. George MacDonald wrote about this in his book Ordering Your Private World.


“The residents of a Florida apartment building awoke to a terrifying sight outside their windows. The ground beneath the street in front of their building had collapsed, creating a massive depression that Floridians call a sinkhole. Tumbling into the ever-deepening pit were automobiles, pavement, sidewalks, and lawn furniture. The building itself would obviously be the next to go.”


“Sinkholes occur, scientists say, when underground streams drain away during seasons of drought, causing the ground at the surface to lose its underlying support. Suddenly everything simply caves in, leaving people with a frightening suspicion that nothing—even the earth beneath their feet—is trustworthy.”


“There are many people whose lives are like one of Florida’s sinkholes. It is likely that at one time or another many of us have perceived ourselves to be on the verge of a sinkhole-like cave in. In the feelings of numbing fatigue, a taste of apparent failure, or the bitter experience of disillusionment about goals or purposes, we may have sensed something within us about to give way. We feel we are just a moment from a collapse that will threaten to sweep our entire world into a bottomless pit. Sometimes there seems to be little that can be done to prevent such a collapse. What is wrong?”


“If we think about it for very long, we may discover the existence of an inner space—our private world—about which we were formerly ignorant. I hope it will become apparent that if neglected this private world will not sustain the weight of events and pressures that press upon it.”[2]


Some of us have experienced the draining of our emotional streams and the subsequent collapse. James tied the Word of God to the healthy response to life’s challenges. I believe this is the case, in part, because God’s Words give us the reservoir of strength we need when our emotions are taxed. We look to the Scripture for strength to do the will of God when our emotions are spent.


We have so many competing forces vying for emotional energies. Social media, television, sports, work, and life in general dig deep into our emotions. Many of the things that preoccupy us are like sugar in the diet. We find no nutritional value. Consuming these things causes malnutrition.


In our consuming race for peace and prosperity, we strive to win a race that, from God’s perspective, has no ultimate prize. Satan, the “Deceiver” and “Destroyer” plunders our emotional reservoir by taking our focus off of that which is important. While men and women are overachieving, Satan accomplishes his agenda of destroying the home.


The results of emotional depletion are all around us. People are tired. Everyone wants to escape from reality through scrolling through Facebook, abusing drugs, pornography, retail therapy, and other things that are unhealthy. The average man can’t relax. A device is always playing in the background.


For many, emotional numbness has set in and people don’t care about things that matter. No wonder people wear their emotions on their sleeves! Fear, depression, and anger bubble up to the surface quickly when the well of God’s Word has run dry in the hearts of men and women!


3. Fill up your reservoir with God's supply.


Let God speak to you. James said that the Word of God was able “to save your souls.” The Word of God is the “law of liberty.” God’s Word is freedom; when you obey the Word of God, you are set free. You don’t need to wait for God to speak to you in the middle of the night. You should be open to the Holy Spirit to shed light on the Scripture.


If you desire to fill up your emotional tank, you will need to have a daily intake of God’s Word.


2 Timothy 3:16  All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.


Spend time with God in prayer. Talk to God about what is bothering you. He will bring restoration and healing to you.


Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.


Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.


You will need to be countercultural to find your joy and fulfillment in God’s Word. If you live by this Book, you will live differently than culture. Perhaps there was a time when the horse of Christianity and the horse of American culture could ride together. Now, those two are taking different paths. We are forced to choose. Do we live for God and find peace in Jesus Christ? Or, do we try to make it the best we can living for the world?


When you are letting God fill your spiritual and emotional reservoir, you can survive the emotional ups and downs life brings. Emotions are powerful for good and evil. When we are hurt, angry, irritated, or frustrated, we have to be infused with the Scripture to respond appropriately.


Leslie Vernick says, “Our emotions are meant to inform us, not rule us.”[3]


If our feelings are not supposed to rule over us, what should? God’s perfect Word. We are to be “doers of the Word, not hearers only.” Hearing a good sermon or a Bible study won’t guarantee our growth. Too many Christians take good notes at church but don’t put their notes into practice. Let’s not kid ourselves!


Let’s be real and take a good look into the mirror. The mirror doesn’t lie. The mirror is God’s Word. It will tell us the truth even when our emotions are untrustworthy. A lot of our emotional pressure is the feeling that we have to fake it if we don’t measure up!


Billy Graham told the story of a family from South Carolina, who went to New York City for vacation. They told everyone that they were going to go to Broadway and watch My Fair Lady. However, when they got to the box office, it was sold out.


“They were disappointed and embarrassed to have to go back home and tell their friends they missed the highlight of their trip, so they decided to do the next best thing. They picked up discarded tickets, purchased a program, and bought the [recordings]. In their [hotel], they learned all the songs and [memorized] the program. Back home they sang and whistled the tunes to all of [songs] hoping no one would [find out] they never saw it.”[4]


Don’t fake it! Please don’t come to church with a façade. Be humble enough to find the strength you need. You don’t have to be someone you’re not. Admit you need help to change. If you are spending your emotional energy by putting up a front, you are going to be worse off; you are going to find yourself in the midst of a spiritual sinkhole.


When emotions run deep, be wise. Georgia Shaffer suggested that when we need to make a decision, we should follow the three Hs:

·         Listen to your Heart—a heart infused with God’s Word.

·         Use your Head.

·         But, most importantly, follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.[5]

[1]Georgia Shaffer, Avoiding the 12 Relationship Mistakes Women Make, (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2014), 97.
[2]Gordon McDonald, Ordering Your Private World, (Nashville, TN: Oliver-Nelson, 1984).
[3]Shaffer, 105.
[4]John Maxwell, Be a People Person, (Colorado Springs, CO: Victor Books, 1989), 86.

Friday, October 23, 2015

I Ignore the Cost of Negative Relationships

Most of us long for close, meaningful friendships. Someone has defined friendship as “knowing the heart of another and sharing one’s heart with another.”  We want people in our lives to encourage, appreciate, understand, and forgive us. In a life filled with adversaries, we need people who are assets to us. Our hearts long for people who live out the Golden Rule by “doing for others.” Friends like these are hard to find.


King Saul’s son Jonathan is an example of a healthy, loyal friendship. Jonathan admired David’s courage and bravery when David killed Goliath. Jonathan and David became loyal friends. Jonathan even gave David his sword and armor. The souls of Jonathan and David were tightly knit.


1 Samuel 18:1 As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.


Jonathan’s friendship with David was a close, life-giving bond. Even when Jonathan’s father Saul hated and tried to kill David, Jonathan continued to be loyal to David. Jonathan could have taken his father’s side and preserved his own legal right to the throne of Israel. However, Jonathan honored his promise to David and warned him when Saul tried to kill him. David’s relationship with Jonathan saved his life. David had found in Jonathan a friend closer than family. David’s son later coined this phrase:


Proverbs 18:24 A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.


1. Beware of toxic friendships.

Not all friendships or relationships are life-giving. Some friendships are toxic. A friendship can get us off track from our spiritual journey. A powerful negative influence can steer us in the wrong direction.


Proverbs 12:26 One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.


Few things impact the quality of your life like the people in your life. Thus, you have to be cautious about your friendships. Some friendships can cost you peace of mind and health. Toxic friendships aren’t just a spiritual or emotional problem. They can be dangerous to your physical health!


“It turns out that Jill Bolte Taylor, a neuroscientist, also had a similar experience in her thirties when a blood vessel exploded in her left brain and she experienced a stroke. ‘Once hospitalized, Dr. Jill could no longer walk, talk, understand language, read or write, however, accessing her right brain she was able to feel immense feelings of satisfaction and well-being. She experienced people as concentrated packages of energy. Although she could not cognitively understand the doctors and visitors as they came in and out she could sense what others felt. By closely studying their body language she would notice how some people would bring her energy and others would take it away.”[1]


Daniel Goleman, in his book Social Intelligence, explained, “Nourishing relationships have a beneficial impact on our health, while toxic ones can act like slow poison in our bodies.”[2] He wrote that like colds or flu, “emotions are contagious.”[3]


Several years ago, I worked with a woman who was in a relationship with a negative man. I will call him Jim. Jim had experienced a lot of pain in his own life. At the pinnacle of his career, Jim was pushed out of his job. Jim was angry. Jim thrived by listening to angry talk radio. He began to treat everyone rudely. Jim suspected that everyone had ulterior motives. Jim was a pain to be around.


I observed this woman compensating for and excusing Jim’s behavior. Her compensating was painful to watch. Jim’s negativity cost this woman her peace of mind. She caught Jim’s negativity like a cold. Jim’s words were like death to her.


Proverbs 12:6 (NLT) The words of the wicked are like a murderous ambush, but the words of the godly save lives.


Ask probing questions about your friendships.

·         Are your friends habitually critical or negative?

·         Do your “friends”run when you are going through adversity?

·         Have your friends demonstrated that they will accept you as God created you to be?


2. Nurture life-giving relationships.


Henri Nouwen wrote, “Friends cannot replace God. They have limitations and weaknesses like we have. Their love is never faultless, never complete. But in their limitations they can be signposts on our journey towards the unlimited and unconditional love of God. Let’s enjoy the friends whom God has sent on our way.”[4] Healthy, Godly relationships can lead us closer to what God intends for us to be.


Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.


To fulfill God’s will in our friendships, we must choose our friends wisely.  Certain associations are forbidden in the Bible. Yes, you heard me correctly. We must not be friends with everyone.


Proverbs 22:24 Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man.


Consider your friendships carefully. Every relationship has a cost. Sometimes the price is too much. No, we will never find ourselves completely isolated from negativity and pain. No, we cannot avoid the pain of disappointment. However, we can position ourselves for the best by following God’s Word and nurturing the right friendships.


Robert Putman, in Bowling Alone, wrote, “Countless studies document the link between society and psyche: people who have close friends and confidants, friendly neighbors, and supportive co-workers are less likely to experience sadness, loneliness, low self-esteem, and problems with eating and sleeping. . . . The single most common finding from a half-century’s research . . . is that happiness is best predicted by the breadth and depth of one’s social connections.”[5]


To put it bluntly, you have to pray and set standards when it comes to letting people into the inner circle of your life. If you are single, you have to set standards for the person you will date. This means you have to know what your standards and values are! You develop those standards from reading God’s Word and walking with Jesus Christ.


Look at your friendships like a garden. To have plants that grow and thrive, you have to provide nourishing soil and adequate water. Your plants will need the right amount of light. The temperature will need to be appropriate. Likewise, your friendships need to be watered with Godly kindness. Your friendships will need to be nourished with understanding and forgiveness. They will need to be supported by the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.”


Also, your friendship garden must be weeded from time to time. Some friendships need to be pulled up and removed. Other friendships need to be pruned back so that they may grow at another occasion. These skills take the time to develop. Being a good friend takes thought and people skills. Whatever we do, we must do in love.


Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.


3. Recognize that relationships go through stages.


Life-giving relationships are not always easy. Even healthy relationships go through difficulties. We must not terminate relationships or friendships just because we go through difficulties. When our relationships go through a rough patch, we have the opportunity to grow spiritually and to learn to trust God.


In his book Be a People Person, John Maxwell mentioned the stages of relationships.[6] The honeymoon stage is when we enter a business, work, or romantic relationship and see the other person’s positive qualities. You may be blind to any negative qualities.


In the specific irritation stage, we begin to see things we don’t like. Your view of the other person becomes more realistic than before. You see imperfections and realize that the honeymoon is over.


In the general discomfort stage, the irritations have been stored in our memory banks. You become more open about the things that bother us.


The try harder stage is when you try to overcome the discomforts to help the relationship. In this stage, it is hard to separate the people from the problem.


Sometimes the relationship moves to the exhaustion stage. Exhaustion is when you get tired and quit trying.


When this happens, unfortunately, the relationship may go to the separation stage. The relationship is terminated with little hope for restoration. Sometimes, you feel numb and do not care.


However, this cycle can be broken or reversed. When you put the other person before yourself, you can work through the problem and restore the relationship.


Matthew 18:15 If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.


The goal in a disagreement between friends is to bring forgiveness and healing to the situation.


Your best friend must always be Jesus.


Jesus Christ is our best friend. The closest, most intimate friendship is possible with God. Think of Moses.


Exodus 33:11a Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.


Jesus is always there for us to give us his undivided attention. His presence is truly a gift. Jesus came from Heaven to earth to live, die, and rise again to restore us to friendship with God. He atoned for our sins on the cross. We can repent and turn to Jesus to receive acceptance.


Romans 15:7 (NLT) Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.


If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, he has accepted you. When we face challenging issues, lose a job, go through a divorce, or find ourselves in need, Jesus is there to restore us to God.


“Although we know that Jesus is our friend, can we say that we are His friends? Do we listen to Him? Or do we only want Him to listen to us? Do we want to know what’s on His heart? Or do we only want to tell Him what’s on ours? To be a friend of Jesus, we need to listen to what He wants us to know and then use the information to bring others into friendship with Him.”[7]






[1]Georgia Shaffer, Avoiding the 12 Relationship Mistakes Women Make, (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2014), 58.


[2]Daniel Goleman, Social Intelligence (New York: Bantam Books, 2006), 5.



[4]Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey (San Francisco: HarperOne, 1997), May 1.


[5]Robert D. Putman, Bowling Alone: The collapse and Revival of American Community, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000), 332.

[6]John Maxwell, Be a People Person, (Colorado Springs, CO: Victor Books, 1989), 113.

[7]Excerpt from Our Daily Bread,, retrieved on October 14, 2015.

Friday, October 16, 2015

I Resist the Season in My Life

“Ever wonder why cars have the warning, ‘Objects in mirror are closer than they appear’ only on the passenger-side-view mirror? The mirror on the passenger side is convex while the mirror on the driver’s side is flat. . . . The passenger-side mirror provides a wider view of what is around us. The problem is that this broader image produced by the convex mirror makes objects look smaller than they actually are. Generally, when we see a person of average height who looks tiny, we assume the person is far away from us. That perception, however, is not true in the case of the passenger-side mirror. Even though a person or a car may appear small and far away it isn’t!”[1]


Car manufacturers remind us of the discrepancy we see in our passenger-side mirror with the sticker that reads, “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.” When we glance in that mirror we are reminded to adjust our perceptions based on the reality that the view in the mirror is distorted.


Relationships may fail because we do not understand that our thinking is connected to the life season in which we are living. Relationships can suffer or fail due to our inability to recognize the beginning, ending, or duration of the season in which we find ourselves. Misunderstandings, marriage trouble, hurt friendships, and missed connections can result when we fail to consider how our seasons are affecting us or those we love.


Perceptions may be out of touch with reality. Our view of life may be distorted because we have false assumptions about the way things are. Sometimes we believe that things can stay the same forever.


Our season in life will distort our perception. Author John Ortberg wrote, “We are all viewing ourselves in the fun house mirror. . . . That is why we are often stunned when someone else sees past our defenses into our souls. It is not that they are geniuses. It is just that I am sitting right in my blindspot.”[2]


Distorted perceptions can be related to the life stages of the children. I remember having car seats strapped into both of our cars. The entire back seat was occupied by our children’s car seats. I could not envision a time when I could use the backseat without moving a car seat out of the way. Those days are gone now.


I am sad when I look at the backseat of the car now. I do not find sippy cups rolling around under the seat. I no longer have the little mirror that I used to keep an eye on the kids on my dashboard. That season of my life is over! Bending over to unbuckle little children is no longer a part of my routine.


We will soon notice the leaves changing outside. Don’t you love the autumn season? The weather is excellent. It is my favorite season. I have a limited number of fall seasons to enjoy in my lifespan. Each year, I grow to appreciate the seasons more and more. I don’t want to miss the beauty of the seasons.


Changes in seasons occur in life. When we go through changes in seasons, we can become depressed. I talked to a family of empty nesters once. In rapid succession, their children moved off to college and career. The mother was in tears for months. The father hid from this reality by pursuing his career more diligently. Needless to say, it was a stressful time.


I have sat with many who have aging parents. One lady cried her eyes out as she told me that she was going to have to broach the subject of not driving to her elderly mother. The widow had gotten lost several times, and the daughter was fearful of what could happen. Another season in both of their lives had ended, and a new one was beginning.


Please understand my point. Your closest relationships can experience tension and turmoil because you fail to pause and think about the seasons of your lives together. Changes affect emotion. Changes impact our routines, patterns, and calendars. Changes may be related to our physical health. If we allow these changes to go by without serious consideration, we can be startled by the implications these changes have on our relationships.


God reminds us in Scripture about the seasons of life. The truly wise know that all their seasons are in God’s hand and that there is a right time for each season.


Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

2 a time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;

a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8 a time to love, and a time to hate;

a time for war, and a time for peace.


God made time to be filled with his plans.


Psalm 31:15a My times are in your hand.


We cannot control time. We use the seasons of time to fulfill God’s purpose. If we cannot accept that we do not have control over time, we will be hopelessly frustrated. If we trust the God of time and seasons, we will find joy and purpose.


God is in complete control of his world. God has made this incredible world so that events come and go on the right schedule—at God’s timing. This fallen world has downs as well as ups. Seasons come with joy. Seasons come with sorrow. How we respond to each season is crucial. We have the opportunity to grow and reflect God’s glory in each season we face.


Remember that God does an excellent job of marking time and making plans. Only God can be sovereign over this world. Nothing catches him by surprise. Not even a bird dies without God noticing.


Matthew 10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.


We can be sure that nothing happens by accident. God does have a plan. God holds everything in his all-powerful hands. God’s plan reflects his infinite wisdom—the good we face and the challenges. We would be naïve to believe that we could live our lives without pain, sorrow, or trials. 


When we face a test that we do not understand,  we can trust God for guidance and direction.


Listen to the words of a wise king to his son:


Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.


When Carol and I were planning on adopting our first child, it was a time to seek. Our needs were great. We needed funding, direction, and help. The calling we felt to adopt a child kept us motivated, but the seeking was not easy.


We did experience moments when I thought that it was time to stop seeking and give up the adoption process. I am sure that I was raw emotionally. I know that I had anxiety and fear about whether adopting a child was possible. This was a challenging season for our family.


Although each of us have unique experiences in life, we all go through seasons. Most of us share common experiences and can learn from them.


Moving from my early adult years into the middle adult years has been a challenging season. I look at myself in the mirror, and I am reminded that I am not in my twenties anymore. I want to hold on to life as I knew it then. However, this is not reality. Aging is a reality. We can cover up the gray and buy more flattering clothes, but only God can rule over the seasons.


Daniel 2:21 He changes times and seasons;

    he removes kings and sets up kings;

he gives wisdom to the wise

    and knowledge to those who have understanding.


The wisest man except Jesus, King Solomon, said that life has its moments. We should recognize these moments and live in light of this reality. When we acknowledge how these seasons can impact our emotions, mind, and body, we are more prepared. Life’s moments affect our relationships.


Think about you and your spouse. You may be close in age, but going through different seasons. You may be in great health. Your spouse may be struggling with an illness. One may have an excellent job. The other may dread going to work. For one it is time to plant. For the other it is time to uproot.


The results of going through different seasons from those you love are many. You may become jealous of the other person. Misunderstandings happen easily when two people close to each other are going through different seasons in life.  Seasons can create a range of emotions that can bring stress upon the relationship: anger, grief, pain, frustration, envy, and disillusionment. Even joyous change can create pressure.


1. Consider the season you are going through right now. Remember, all seasons we go through give us opportunities to grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ. Seasons in life have their plusses and minuses.  What is going on in your life right now? What has changed? What is new? Even if you feel like your much older, remember that God has particular feelings about that.


Psalm 92:12 The righteous flourish like the palm tree
    and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.


Psalm 92:14 They still bear fruit in old age;
    they are ever full of sap and green.

Becoming aware of ourselves is not easy. We are usually more self-centered than we are self-aware. To be self-aware, we must take the time to reflect and pray. To understand our own blessings and challenges, we need to think through our lives through the lens of Scripture. The Word of God is a mirror that helps us to understand who we are.
James 1:23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer,he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.
2. Accept the season you and your loved ones are experiencing. Some things we accept with joy. Other things, like poor health and death, we dread. Believe that God will use this season for his glory and purposes. When you find yourself struggling to accept the seasons you are facing, try these suggestions:
·         Remember God’s faithfulness in the previous seasons.
·         Talk to someone with a gift for encouraging others.
·         Notice someone who is going through a similar season well.
The key to dealing with the seasons of life is deciding to accept them. Live for this season in a way that prepares you for the one that will follow. Take care of yourself and those you love. Be alert to the present realities. Be willing to adapt to the changes.
What seasons are those closest to you going through? How can you be there for them and support them?

[1]Georgia Shaffer, Avoiding the 12 Relationship Mistakes Women Make, (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2014), 45.
[2]John Ortbert, The Me I Want to Be (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 157.