I’m lamenting today about all the time and energy I’ve wasted in my life fretting over things that should not be my concern. As a child, when I would get in trouble for something I’d said or done, my fall back position was always to bring up the things my brother had done. Call it, “what-about-isms.” My parents would always bring me back to the issue being addressed was about my behavior, not that of my sibling. It just seemed wholly unfair to me to be corrected or punished for doing what someone else got away with. Of course, that was my perspective as a child. Of course, I would pout and do all the things children do when they don’t get their way, or they feel wronged. Ah, childhood, I guess we all go through those growing pains. 

When I became an adult, one would think I would leave behind my childish ways. In 1 Corinthians 13:11, The Apostle Paul says, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put away childish things.” Guess what, those childish ways followed me into adulthood and continued to plague my thoughts. When I was at work I concentrated my attention on co-workers and what they were doing, instead of paying attention to my own work. Why was I working so hard, and they seemed to just skate by. Why did the boss constantly ride my back, but other’s behavior was never addressed? This same attitude followed me into the church. As I matriculated through the ordination process and was appointed to churches, I would worry and fret over why my appointment didn’t seem as prestigious or as important as other fellow clergy received. 

I think I’m a late bloomer, but what I have begun to lament is all the time, effort, energy, and opportunity I wasted all those years. I’m not sure why bricks have to fall on my head to get my attention, or I have to burn myself repeatedly to know the stove is hot.In these latter days of my life, I’m looking back at all the wonderful people I’ve been blessed to know. I’m looking at the truly amazing gifts God gave me along the way. I’ve begun to think to myself how ungrateful I have been to not recognize how good God has been to me. 

When we compare ourselves to others, we will always find where we are lacking, where others succeed ahead of us, times where unfairness and slight seem to consume us. But when we compare ourselves to what all God has brought us through, where all we’ve come from, and the richness of God’s blessings for us, we might begin to see life in a very different way. 

I’m much more settled now than I have ever been in my life. I find joy in the simplest of things. I value peace above so much else in life. I can truly celebrate other’s successes, praising God for their blessings. I see others behaviors and wish for them to come to an awareness of a need to change. But I no longer believe its my responsibility to make them change. That rests with them. 

Since my beloved Antoine passed away, I’ve been working on simplifying my life. Cleaning out clutter, getting rid of stuff, passing on things I no longer need, nor want to hoard up in my life. Its been a very freeing exercise. I’m trying my best to not let my possessions possess me. The same can be said for how I look at my blessings and circumstances compared to others. I no longer feel compelled to look at others to assess where I am and what I have. I’m striving to let every day bring a newness and joy all its own. The successes I find in my church are enough, they don’t need to be compared to other churches. 

The refrain of Thomas O. Chisholm’s hymn keeps playing in my mind… “Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see; all I have needed thy hand hath provided; great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!” Maybe, in my 60’s I have finally been able to put away childish things. I lament all the years I wasted worrying about what others had compared to me, how others received what I deemed as better treatment than me. Although late in life, it has finally come to me that what God has for me, is for me. My life has been, and continues to be richly blessed. I have been blessed to be loved better than I ever deserved to be. I have been blessed to receive more than I have given. I have been blessed with a life only God could give. 

The time for lamenting has passed, its past time to live fully into what God has for me. I pray your life is filled with all the joy, all the peace, all the wonder you can experience. No, you won’t always have what you want, things won’t always turn your way, situations won’t always be as you would have them, people will disappoint you. But the God we serve will ALWAYS be faithful, and will bless you beyond your wildest imagination.

Your fellow traveler on the Way,

Pastor Tom

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