A quick devotional thought for the day:
Years ago, we helped my wife’s grandmother move. She had to have been in her 80’s at that point. As we shuffled things around she would point, direct, and supervise the process of culling through her things. Finally it was time to leave and we walked her down the sidewalk to the car. As we escorted her through the door and off the porch, we had to navigate a few steps. Quietly, but aloud, after every step Nana would say, “Thankya Lawd” That’s Texan for Thank You, Lord…in case you were wondering.
In the years since, Nana has passed away, but Shelley and I have lovingly use her little phrase when talking about things we’re thankful for. It’s a tribute to her in a sense, as well as a useful habit for us. Practicing thankfulness is so important. Especially in the little things. It is easy to forget that our Big God is interested in the little things of our lives.
Nana was thankful for making it down a step. When was the last time you thanked God for not falling going down a step? Me? Probably never. I have a habit of overlooking the little things that God is present with me in. In my addiction, I couldn’t see where God was present in anything, partly because he seemed absent from the big things. But that is a wrong perspective.
To overlook God’s presence in the little things because He seems absent in the big things is faulty thinking.
I urge you to practice thankfulness in the little things over the next couple days. Do something specifically to cultivate gratitude. Take the first minute of every waking hour to be thankful for something. Have you been sexually sober while reading this (man, I hope so!)? Thank God. Did you make it down a step or two this morning? Thank God. Did you make it to work without hitting a pedestrian? Barely, but me too! Thank the Lord.
Here’s the Thankful List I’m starting this morning. What’s yours?
- I got to walk my oldest son to school.
- My middle son wanted me to hug him.
- Shelley didn’t leave me.
- Norman, our baby, was happy while I was feeding him.
- I have a car that works.
- I get to help people for a living.
- Sweet tea.
- Moontower tacos (a taco shop across from my office).
- I have a jacket in the Denver cold.
- I went down 6 steps without falling.
For a lot of us who struggle/have struggled with sexual integrity issues, there is a tension in owning our positive actions as well as those actions that bear unintended consequences. As manipulative people, we tend to focus on one or the other depending on which one benefits us in the moment. Here’s what I mean: when we do things that contribute to our purity or to the protection of our wives hearts we want it to be acknowledged. We hope that our actions will be recognized, and that we’ll get a high-five for doing what we, in all likelihood, should have been doing in the first place. We want praise and affirmation for our positive actions.
Alternatively, when our actions have unintended consequences that cause hurt, pain or disappointment in the people around us, we want to take the spotlight off our actions. Instead, we want to highlight our intentions. It’s almost like we believe if we could convince the hurt person that we didn’t mean to do damage, that our heart was “in the right place” or that we were genuinely trying to do the right thing then we shouldn’t be culpable. We shouldn’t have to pay for something that we intended to be positive but happened to turn out negative.
Perhaps we should. Maybe the healing thing to do is take responsibility; even for the unintended consequences of damage to those we love. How might your life be different if you actually owned those situations that went south, even when you tried so diligently to make them go right? Could the people in your life who’ve been hurt actually respect you more in the end?
Let’s make this tangible. Have you ever had a restaurant mess up your order? Picture being at your local Asian food restaurant and ordering a favorite dish. Mine happens to be Kung Pao Chicken. A few minutes later the waiter drops a bowl of Pad Thai in front of you and says, “enjoy!” Seeing your disappointment and surprise he asks what’s wrong. When you retort that you had your heart set on that delicious Kung Pao he replies, irked, with something along the lines of, “oh, sorry. I intended to put that order in but I guess it turned out wrong. Oops”. The end. Waiter walks away.
How would you feel? What would you want? Do you care who screwed up the order? Do you really want to hear whether he wrote it down wrong, or the kitchen was too busy, or the manager on duty just doesn’t run the place very well? Chances are you just want them to own it and fix it. You might even be fine with the Pad Thai this time, but you are counting on that Kung Pao without a glitch next time.
Remember, if the person you’ve disappointed doesn’t ask for an explanation, then explanations will likely sound like excuses.