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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Maybe Not Your Everyday Valentine's Day Post

February...the month of pinks and hearts and love songs and, if you live in the Midwest, snow!  If you're like me, you hate this time of year.  Like, seriously hate it.  More than the Emperor hates Jedis.  It's that time of year when already established couples have an extra excuse to be cutesy and lovey dovey and those who are single tend to get a little more desperate for a date.  Now don't get me wrong, some people are absolutely adorable and I don't mind watching them around Valentine's Day.  Some people are just kinda gross.  Now, I could spend this blog post hosting a pity party for myself but that's not the purpose.

The purpose is instead to show you that there is more to February than the dreaded couples' day.  When we get to February, some people feel that they need Valentine's Day to lift their spirits as the long winter months have become almost unbearable.  Winter, that season when things seem to die and the sun disappears behind clouds.  Winter is usually tolerable from late November until January but by the time February begins, people start getting antsy.  I think that's why so much focus is put on Valentine's Day.

There is so much more to the month of February though.  It's one of those final months before spring begins, the season where all life around us is reborn.  A time of new beginnings.  Now, that may sound extremely girly and cheesy, but that's what excites me about spring.  After being stuck in winter, I feel empty and dry and need new life to feel renewed.  Sometimes I think that that's what Valentine's Day is somewhat attempting to do.  Now before you twist my words to mean something I didn't imply, understand this: this "love holiday" is not all bad.  We just put a little too much focus on it.  Honestly, I don't think you need a holiday to have an excuse to take your special someone on a fancy date or buy them flowers.  There shouldn't be a social pressure to do something like that; it should be out of the goodness of your heart instead of an unspoken guilt trip...shouldn't it?  (For those of you who really like Valentine's Day, that's great!  Glad you make it work well!)

A lot of these thoughts honestly do come out of the pity parties I hold for myself lately.  Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't mind experiencing Valentine's Day differently than I have all the other years.  (Although the time I got my license on Valentine's Day was pretty epic!)  However, I want to flip my way of thinking to focusing on a different purpose for this time of year.  This month, I want to spend time preparing myself for the things God is going to do in and through me.  I want to prepare myself for the new life I will have in my spirit.  That's the purpose I want February to have during this stage of my life.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

How's Your 'Tude?

I'm gonna shoot straight with you here: my attitude currently stinks.  It reeks.  The odor is toxic and rotten.  It smells of unwashed socks and my soul is full of gunk...oh wait that's the Grinch.  But seriously, I need a MAJOR attitude adjustment!

What is my problem, you ask?  Let's just say I have not had the best outlook on some of my violin repertoire, orchestra pieces we have to play, needing to deal with people respectfully, and giving God control.  Go ahead, give me that judgmental look.  You may be tempted to raise your eyebrows at me the next time you see me.  I deserve it.

My sour attitude sometimes gets the better of me and I complain to anyone who will hear.  That's not fair to them.  Yeah, good friends are there to listen to you and bear your burdens, but they aren't supposed to be completely immersed in them!  They have their own problems to deal with.  I shouldn't be forcing them to listen to my nagging, negative words as often as I do.

What have I done about it?  Not nearly enough.  I'm the queen of excuses, so here's one: I don't take the proper amount of time to sit with God and work it out.  I mention it to Him and pray about it, but I don't do anything about it.  I don't sit and let Him show me what to do.  And honestly, in some situations, I don't want to do anything about it.  I want to be justified in my annoyance and frustration.  I don't want to change how I deal with certain people or change what I think about certain pieces of music I have to play.

But is that the way a Christian should think and act?  Yes, we are human and will resort to our sinful nature at times.  However, that is not as valid of an excuse as we would like to think.  Philippians 2:3-5 says, (I've italicized what I'm going to highlight) "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.  In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus."

Selfish ambition will look different in every person's life and stage that they are in.  Currently, mine is using my attitude as a way to get attention from people and to make me feel important.  We are called to live holy lives; that is what Paul is challenging the Philippians with.  Is that how I am living?  Right now, I'd have to answer no.

What is the mindset of Christ Jesus?  He was sinless and perfect.  He had no desire for affection from others that was gained in a less than attractive way.  Christ is the Holy Lamb of God and wants the best for us.  Is that my thought when I begin a conversation with a friend?  Or do I have ulterior motives: to get someone on my side, to say something regarding one of the situations I dislike that will cause sympathy or will be considered witty?

What about you?  What is your attitude like?  What is your selfish ambition?  Do you know the mindset of Jesus Christ?  Or are you on the same boat as me; paddling against the current with one oar of Stubbornness and the other of Negativity as you sail the SS Rotten?  This is my semester of needing an attitude adjustment.  I just need to be willing to let God take my oars and toss them overboard and guide me in the right direction for a while before fashioning me new paddles, ones of Grace and Understanding.