Life is a Puzzle
Recently, I noticed that the number of my Facebook friends had dropped. I’d lost two one week. And lost another two the week after. Oh! Was I offending people by my statuses? I hoped not. It was no big deal. It didn’t worry me in the least. But it was enough to make me think, so I put up a status about it.
I was both touched and embarrassed by the warm and loving responses of my Facebook friends. You see – it hadn’t bothered me at all. But I’d asked myself if there was something I needed to change. That was all. I was deeply moved that many friends came forward quickly to comfort me and support me. It didn’t matter. Really! In fact, there have been a couple of occasions when I too have needed to un-friend a couple of my ‘friends’. I did it prayerfully. I believed I made the right choice. And so – I totally get it that others might do the same to me. That’s life, isn’t it?
As I responded to the loving words of friends that day – I pondered on a little conundrum. I love encouraging other believers in their walk with God, so I often put up a Bible verse or words of a song on Facebook. The problem is that those statuses may not be an encouragement to all my friends. I have many non Christian friends. It might be annoying for them to see Christian quotes on their Facebook wall all the time, just as I too might find it irritating to see posts of things I don’t adhere to on my own wall. So how do I encourage all my friends by what I say, without putting off a few of them? A wee dilemma. Not always easy to do.
There are other areas of life too where decisions are hard to make. Do I do this and please that person? Or do I do that and please one person but offend another? How do I please all the people in my life at the same time? What’s at the root of my choices? Making others happy is good to do. But not at the expense of my integrity. Several years ago, God led me into a season of refining and pruning where He showed me many things I should change about my life.
At that time I decided that I’d live primarily to an Audience of One. To aim to please God in how I lived. I knew that all else would then fall into place automatically. Since then, I have done my best to honour my promise to Him. A few years down the track, however God sent me an opportunity to flex my spiritual muscles. I had to make decisions that others might not understand. I had to live to an Audience of One and be content with that. I have to confess it wasn’t easy. It’s one thing to live by your principles when life is going well. Quite another to do so when one is misunderstood and life is like a house made of playing cards that's exposed to a gusty wind. ‘Poof’ says the wind. And they all fall down!
And yet, that’s what we are called to. To listen to His Voice. To please God above all. Not be unduly sensitive to what others might think or say. To live with integrity and purpose, being willing to be misunderstood if need be. Sometimes decisions I make (even with God’s help and counsel) could well offend others who don’t see the whole picture.
There’s nothing I can do about it except to ask God to keep me humble, loving and obedient. To do my best to live His way, asking the Holy Spirit to be my Advocate. The truth is that I can’t please everyone all of the time. If I try to make everyone happy – I would most probably do the opposite and offend many of them anyway. But if I live to please God – I can trust Him who is faithful that He will take care of everything else.
Which brings me to an important question. What does it mean to be a success? In our frenzied, achievement driven world, what really matters in life may stand in stark contrast to what we humans often strive for – possessions, achievements, status, a good name. Success is, I believe to become the person God created me to be. To do whatever He’s asked of me in humility and trust, in faithfulness and courage; with God’s love as my driving force and also my resting place. Above all, love.
And so I return to that simple but also profound command which Jesus gave us:
Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33
Need I say more?