Singing in the Rain

It is very gray and wet today in Petoskey.  Out the office window I can see the clouds gathering over the bay, where the rain makes the water ripple in little circles.  Pretty in one way, but rather dismal in another.

On these “gray days” I often wake up with a groan and bury my head back in my pillow.  What a way to start out the day!  No one likes to start the morning out with a sad, dreary outlook.  However, too often we wake up with that ‘rainy-day’ mentality — even when the sun is shining outside!

When our circumstances aren’t what we would prefer, it is natural for us to become sour and morose.  We want to pout or get angry, and our stormy attitude affects everyone that we come in contact with.  Emotion takes the lead and we follow where it wills.

One of the hardest things to conquer as a girl can be emotion.  Naturally emotional, many young women  allow their feelings to rule their behavior.  When it’s raining outside or if it’s in our hearts, it is our instinct to let those feelings run free and wild — no matter who we run over in the process.

Reining in our emotions is one of the greatest keys to success in life.  When a girl has emotional stability, she is strong in the face of stress, pressure, surprise and difficulty.  She is able to keep her head and heart in place.  Emotional control (also called self-control) is necessary in order to be effective in anything.

Let’s look at the other end of the spectrum: a life lived with free vent to emotion and feeling.  Women who live this way will be tossed by every passing whim, confused by circumstance, distressed by pressure, and unable to deal with the turbulent storms of life. 

The girl who learns to “sing in the rain” can overcome circumstances with a cheerful attitude.  This young woman will be sought out by friends, family, employers and opportunity because she is able to conquer feeling with faith. 

“…until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature [womanhood], to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.  Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”  (Eph. 4:13-16)

To Think About

  • Do you allow your emotions to rule you, or do you rule your emotions?
  • How can you strengthen your emotions under stress and pressure?
  • How does your goal to become strong emotionally bring glory to God through your life?

High Expectations

“You’re such a good person Phylicia,” exclaimed Debbie. “You don’t swear, you don’t smoke and you don’t drink.” “Yeah, she’s so nice, she doesn’t even know HOW to be mean,” added Amy.  “And to never have dated!” Continued Debbie incredulously.  I really didn’t know what to say.  “Um, thanks?”  “Er, okay…”  “Yeah, you should try it!”?  On schedule, these conversations will come up —  always involving the inevitable analysis of my character.  And the diagnosis always comes out the same:  I am a Good Person.

Being the Good Person consists of several attributes, all of which (by my co-workers’ admission) I possess:  you don’t drink, you don’t smoke, you aren’t living with someone, you don’t swear and as a general whole, you’re “nice”.  “Nice” means you don’t yell at people, backstab your boss, call co-workers names or kick the coffee machine when you’re mad.  As a whole, the Good Person is a very likable, friendly individual.  But there’s one problem:  the Good Person is expected to be Good on a consistent basis.  As soon as she fails, everyone is right there to watch her crumple.

Being the Good Person is an effort.  Once you have established yourself as the resident Goody-Two-Shoes, you have to maintain the persona.  You have to continue to live up to the expectations of the people around you.  There is no room for weakness, no room for mistakes, and certainly no room for failure.  Every morning you wake up to face them again — forced to be a person you’re not sure you truly are.  Everyone will fall.  Everyone will fail.  But you must be a pillar of strength, an example to all.  You have to meet the expectations of the people who are watching, or you and the God you represent are fodder for mockery.

How do I know the life of the Good Person?  Because I have been her.  I have been the Good Girl on the job; the one who wouldn’t swear, wouldn’t joke about crude and ungodly things, wouldn’t drink or condone drinking.  But after only a little while, I couldn’t do it anymore.  It wore me down… trying to live to impress, to be an example, to be the Difference.  I wasn’t making a difference.  I was just… different. 

In living this life, I came to understand something.  We aren’t here to be the Difference.  We aren’t here to be the ones who are good and moral by the world’s standard.  And we certainly aren’t here to try to do it all and be it all to all people.  We can NEVER meet the standard the world will set for us.  Sure, we’re “good”.  We do the right things.  We abide by a moral standard.  But to try to keep up with the world’s expectations for us will wear us down, tire us out and ultimately, plunge us into discouragment and despair.  The standard can’t be met… on our own strength.

“See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand.  It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.  For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh.  But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Gal.6:11-14)

Those who want to make a “good showing”…  I ask you, are you that person?  I know I have been, and I still struggle with a tendency to be so.  I want to please People.  I want them to think well of me, because in my mind, if they think well of me, they’ll think well of Christians and Christ himself.  But there is the untruth.  Jesus said:

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your father who is in heaven.” (Matt.6:1)

God uses us for His glory in ways we may never know.  The best way to bring glory to Him, to attract people to Christ, is to love Him, live Him and let Him lead.  Let Him draw others to you, asking about your faith,  but do not work to attract them with your good deeds.  In the end, you will be pursuing an ever fleeing goal: the goal of gaining the approval of men.  Their expectations may never be met.  Seek to meet God’s expectations for you, and all else will fall into place.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt.6:33)

I can’t boast in my own strength, because I am unable to maintain the life of the Good Person.  But I can boast in one thing: the cross of Christ.  It is through His sacrifice alone that I can stand in righteousness today.  I will boast in the Lord my God; I will boast in the One who is worthy.  Because I am not.