Are You Your Worst Enemy?
The year 2012 is here and with it comes a chance for new beginnings for each of us. What do you want to start fresh this year? I am very happy to see a new year with new opportunities.
Maybe you need to start over this year with a new attitude toward someone, or you need to start exercising more. Perhaps you need to be more disciplined in an area or quit complaining so much. Establishing anything new takes patience because there is a learning curve with new ways of living or establishing new habits. I have discovered there are a few components that help make starting over successful: Patience with oneself and others, a determination to press on, forgiving and forgetting.
To be successful at anything takes determination. I remember talking to my grandfather years ago, he had been married to my grandmother for more than 65 years. I asked him what their secret was to staying married so long. He said, “Just never quit.” That was simple but good advice. Most people fail at things because they quit too soon or get discouraged. Winners don’t quit and often times have to encourage themselves to press through. The book of Psalms is full of David encouraging himself as he attempts to battle discouragement. Psalms 42:5 says, “Why so downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God.” David encouraged himself on days when you could tell he was tempted to quit.
Abraham Lincoln failed at a number of things before he was successful. He failed as a farmer, a shopkeeper, his first attempt at political office, a business man, his first attempt at Congress and the U.S. Senate. That could be a little discouraging, but our famous president was determined. He didn’t quit and pressed on with the things he knew he was meant to do. He also lost two children at young ages. That is a lot to overcome, but he kept pressing on.
Sometimes we can be our own worst enemies. Beginning new habits or beginning again in anything, we need to face the reality that we are on a learning curve, which means we are likely to make some mistakes or even fail at our first attempt at something new. Sometimes we can get frustrated and mad at ourselves when we fail. This only leads to more turmoil within ourselves and robs us of peace. Jesus paid a great price for us to have peace but we often ignore the peace we could enjoy. We all want to do well in life, and many times I have seen in my own life I have a greater expectations of myself than I do others.
One time, I remember someone saying to me, “Kathleen, the devil doesn’t have to bother attacking you, you attack yourself.” At first, I got mad at the statement and the person who said it, but it made me think. There was an element of truth to the words, and I had to admit it. Any time someone makes us mad, we need to ask ourselves if there is any element of truth in what they have said. It might not be “the truth,” but there might be an element of truth in their statement, otherwise we wouldn’t get mad. Pride often gets in the way.
I have seen many people act as judge and jury and punish themselves far worse than anyone else would, especially God. Scripture says, “When we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.”
God is not a God that keeps making us pay for our mistakes. Yes, there are consequences to our sin, but God is quick to forgive and forget when we come to Him with repentant hearts. If God forgives us, why do so many people refuse to forgive themselves and therefore, keep punishing themselves? There is rest for our souls and peace when we simply accept His gift of forgiveness. If you are lacking in rest and peace, you might consider forgiving others or yourself.
The beauty of a relationship with God is that His love and mercy are new every morning. Fresh love and brand new mercy each day. What more could we want?
Psalms 86 says, “But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, long-suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.”(NIV)
Mercy is defined as a compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or someone subject to one’s power. How much mercy do you show yourself? Do you keep punishing yourself for your failures? What often happens is when we don’t like ourselves and don’t admit it and release ourselves from mistakes made, we often don’t extend mercy to others and are quick to find fault with them. To give mercy to others, first we have to receive it ourselves.
Pressing on in establishing new things often begins with changing our mindset about the past. Way too many times we rehash and dwell on things in our past. Dwelling on negative things in our past keeps us stuck.
Philippians 3:13 says, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)
It is hard to put things behind us, to press on, and I find I sometimes have to ask God for help to do this. Philippians 4:8 is quick to say that we must keep our minds fixed on what is true, honorable, just, pure, winsome and gracious. These are all positive things, not negative.
Philippians 4:9 says, “Practice what you have learned, and received and heard and seen in me, and model your way of living it, and the God of peace (of undisturbed well being) will be with you.” (AMP)
We choose what our mind dwells on. Can you choose to forget the negative of last year? Can you choose to forget your failures? Can you forgive yourself as well as others? These are questions we must ask ourselves in order to embrace new opportunities and discover the wonderful things God has for us in 2012. Will you join me?
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