Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Joys of Minding My Own Business

This verse completely changed my life:

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you..." ... I Thessalonians 4:11

How could a verse like that change everything? It was the "mind your own business" part, mostly.

I became happier when I minded my own business...

...when I stopped having an opinion about what everyone else was doing...
...when I stopped expecting everyone to make the same choices I made. I used to think everyone should paint their walls certain colors or install certain types of carpet or buy certain makes of cars or vacation in certain places. I thought single people shouldn't live in big houses or people shouldn't eat at certain expensive restaurants or vote a certain way or grow certain fluorescent-colored flowers or start their kids too early in daycare... or that pastors should have shared a different way or writers should have written about different subjects...

... and on and on... (and maybe you have your own list, too...)

But being full of opinions, as well as worrying and fretting about peoples' choices, after awhile, starts weighing on you. Voicing opinions about every little thing and worrying about others, makes my head tired, my voice tired, and well, I know it tires peoples' ears to hear me all day long, too...

It is exhausting trying to make the world do what you think it should do.

(Not to mention useless, a huge waste of Life and, according to the above verse, it flies against scripture.)

Of course, there are times when God wants me to speak up or out about a thing--but therein lies the key: discovering if He is wanting to speak through me or if it's just me aching and itching to share my you've-just-gotta-hear-this opinions. After all, it only matters what God thinks.

For awhile God let me get away with having an opinion about every little thing every person was doing, but then it all seemed to crash one day. For months He'd taught me to do only those things He gave me Grace to do and I began accomplishing twice as much with only half the effort I'd expended for years and years.

But then suddenly, it hit me--God was giving me no Grace to mind other peoples' business. Now it tired me to spend time thinking how my friends and acquaintances and strangers should be making different choices. There was no strength given to me, no Grace, to make those kinds of judgments. No strength--and definitely--no joy, either. And there I was not understanding, at first, just what was going on.

And as Martha would say--it was a Good Thing. After all, God doesn't give me Grace to worry... or to try controlling the whole world--He gives only Grace enough to handle my own tiny part of the world.

And eventually I got that. And how good to get weaned off of putting my nose where it did not belong. How good to let people be who they are. How good to trust God to make any necessary changes in peoples' lives--and to watch Him make much better changes than the ones I'd had in mind!

How good to know peace... to move out of God's way and let Him do what I could never do in a million years...

... And how very good it is to 'lead a quiet life, mind my own business and to work with my hands...'

There's always plenty of Grace available for me to do that.

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