Focus: Finding wisdom from above
James 3:17 (NKJV) But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
When it seems like your life has been a series of unfortunate events, you might start to view others who don’t look like they have the problems you do with a sense of resentment or bitterness…even envy. It never seems like other people have a cross to bear that’s as big as the one you have to carry. Seeing people who appear to be ‘carefree’ can make you feel like you must be living out some kind of a curse. Why else would you have to struggle and suffer so much?
The really hard thing to face is that it’s such a vicious cycle. When you’re in a place of depression and are having a tough time just getting one foot in front of the other—it can seem like the bad stuff just won’t stop happening.
In a season of heaviness and multiplied trials, you can ‘take on’ the expression of a poor, tormented soul…because you honestly are. What you have to keep your focus on during this time is that what you are going through is not permanent. This pain is not going to last forever. The dark night will eventually give way to daybreak.
It’s natural to isolate yourself during a prolonged period of darkness. You begin to believe that people don’t really want to be around you. Sometimes you sense them making excuses and putting you off in conversation. This kind of response can make you feel even more alienated, as your mind tells you all kinds of things—like, “Why would they want to be around me? I’m no fun anymore.” Or, “I have nothing in common with anyone now—everything we used to share is gone.” And, “People don’t know what to say to me—they know being around me is just a downer…no one understands.” The more you allow your mind to dwell on thoughts like those—the worse you will feel and the more likely you will continue to isolate, which is the worst thing for you during this time.
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Still, it feels ‘fake’ to just paste on a smile and put yourself out there—acting like everything is fine when your brain is frozen and your heart is mangled. You have a hard enough time trying to remember the beginning of a sentence by the end of a sentence in a simple conversation. How on earth can you start to believe you will be able to socially navigate again when your progress is all but imperceptible right now?
An important thing for you to work on is not comparing yourself with other people and falling into the trap of feeling like your problems are the biggest. Even if you don’t mean to, it’s a common tendency—when you’re the owner of a wounded heart. It’s almost unthinkable that anyone has ever had a trial as hard as yours.
If you don’t want to feel this way forever, you’re going to have to get very determined. Deep inside you know you want to finish well. You’ll come through this whole thing with a lot of new wisdom if you don’t give in to resentment, bitterness, and envy. Wisdom doesn’t grow in that environment. Before you’re going to get to the point of scoring any wisdom, first your thoughts and actions are going to have to become ‘pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy’ according to James 3:17. That’s a lot to contemplate in your present state of mind, I know. But those eight attributes of ‘wisdom from above’, could be a wish list and a place to start.
One of the ways to make progress in recovery, is to regularly make a searching and fearless moral inventory of your thoughts and intents. As you consider your thoughts and intents, you have to be willing to be a little hard on yourself if you really want to move forward. Think about the amount of time you might be devoting to thoughts that are of a resentful, bitter, or envious nature. If you want to overcome those kind of negative feelings—you’ll have to have the willingness to ‘take charge’ when your mind starts going in that direction. If there is a person in particular who seems to ‘set you off’—do an exercise in your mind that will begin to reverse those emotions. Imagine that person and then direct your mind to think thoughts about them that are ‘first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.’
When you’re suffering from emotional pain, it seems like you shouldn’t have to be the one to make the first move. But the rest of James 3:17 says that the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. Becoming a peacemaker could be a step in the right direction toward relief, healing…and wisdom.
Declaration: I will find new strength by becoming a peacemaker with my thoughts and people who I have viewed with resentment, bitterness, and envy. I will move toward relief and healing by ordering my mind with discipline. I will obtain wisdom from above by making sure my thoughts are first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.’
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