This month we've been doing a sermon series at Church, 2008: A Year To Give Up! We have studied the disfunctional family of Isaac & Jacob. Today Mike preached a sermon in the series- "2008: A year to Give Up Bad Habits." We looked at Jacob's bad habits: lying, blaming others, favoritism, and running from problems. Mike then shared the steps that we can take to break our bad habits: (1) recognize you have a problem, (2) realize your weakness, (3) refocus your attention on something else,(4) Reveal your plan to others who can help hold you accountable.
This sermon blew me away because I've been thinking about what I will do for Lent, and this sermon fit perfectly with what I was considering. I figured why wait, I will start now.
1. My problem(s):
I struggle often with my attitude. Often I tend to think the worst, worry, and be pessimistic. I take my blessings forgranted, which leads to jealousy, comparison with others, and a bad attitude.
2. Realize your weakness:
Like many people, I become negative when I am stressed, overworked, tired, etc. Often these emotions stem from living a hurried life with no time to slow down and appreciate the life that I have. Additionally, I stuggle with selfishness. I tend to feel these negative emotions when I am focused on myself and everything that I want and do not have.
3. Refocus your attention on something else:
This is where my plans for Lent come in. During the season of Lent, I had planned to take on an attitude of gratitude. This sounds wonderful in the abstract, but I believe that you cannot just tell yourself, "I am going to be grateful" and then you will become grateful. Instead, changing my attitude will take diligent hard work that will only be accomplished by small steps taken each day. Thus, I plan to refocus my attention by finding one thing or person that I am grateful or thankful for each day. This will address one of my weaknesses, which is being too frazzled to slow down. In order to identify one thing or person that I am grateful for, I will have to slow down long enough to consider my life and what I am truly thankful for that day. I will address my second weakness, selfishness, with my "action step". Once I've identified the person or thing that I am grateful for, I plan to take action - hence "gratitude in action." For example, if I am thankful or grateful for someone, I will take action to show my gratitude by writing a short thank you note or doing something thoughtful directed at that person. Sometimes I will do this anonymously in order to serve without expecting something in return. If I am thankful for something that God has done (like a beautiful sunset), I will show my gratitude to God by serving or doing something considerate for someone. This may be someone that I do not even know.
4. Reveal your plan so that others can hold you accountable.
I plan to try to be thankful and take action each day. I will share some of my experiences here. I may not give names or share the exact details of I do (because I may do things for someone anonymously), however, I will try to share what I learn and some of my experiences here.
I believe that this will honor God because I will be loving God (I will be thankful and slowing down to recognize and ponder the blessings in my life), I will be loving others (again, I will slow down and recognize the people and things that make my life so special), and finally, I will be loving myself (I will be slowing down, focusing on others, taking steps to better myself along the way).
As my fortune from my fortune cookie said today, "Your happiness is intertwined with your outlook on life." I hope to begin to recognize how richly blessed I am, and perhaps I can bless a few other people along the way.