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Posts Tagged ‘glass half empty’

I thought I had cured myself of being a ‘glass half empty’ person. I thought I had learnt to be more grateful for family and friends, for the lovely things I own and the wonderful experiences I have had. Yet now and then, I hear this peevish, little voice inside me complaining about something I have missed out on or pointing out things tantalisingly beyond my reach. ‘Yes, you have that,’ it says, ‘but … well, you could have had this instead. Look what you’ve missed out on yet again!’

Recently, I received an email announcing the results of a short story competition I entered months ago. In it, I discovered that, while I did not win, my story was among the ten best entries and that, as a result, I would receive $150. This was a pleasant surprise, especially since I had forgotten all about the competition. But then came that ‘glass half empty’ moment when I remembered that the first prize was ten times that amount—$1500. Immediately, my joy in winning my $150 was dimmed. ‘I could have done lots with that $1500,’ I grumbled. ‘The email says that choosing a winner was difficult. Probably I just missed out.’

Thankfully, God soon intervened and I began to laugh at myself—especially when I remembered that the basic story idea had emerged from something someone else told me rather than from any cleverness on my part. Yes, I embellished it and put time and effort into polishing it up, after gaining my friend’s permission. But in reality, as I believe God showed me, this story was a gift from the very beginning—and any prize I received was an added bonus.

I suspect all of us can think of things or experiences we would very much like to have, including those we may have enjoyed in a past role or setting. Recently, I attended a funeral back at the church where we spent many years and, while it was good to honour our friend who had passed away, see other old friends and be in a place we had loved so much, it was also rather painful to realise those days are well and truly gone now. For a while, I indulged in a little self-pity, but then God reminded me of lessons learnt back then and the wonderful life experiences I have had since, including my writing journey.

I may yearn for times past or for things beyond my reach, for one reason or another, yet it is unhealthy to stay in this negative, ‘glass half empty’ space, isn’t it? Instead, I am called to live fully and realistically in the present moment with God, noticing what there is for me to do right now and doing it with all my heart. And I am also called to be thankful and at peace, knowing God is with me, whatever is happening or not happening around me.

May I soon learn to see that glass not as half empty at all, but gloriously half full—indeed, constantly brimming over with God’s grace and goodness and incredible love!

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

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I confess I’m a ‘glass half empty’ person. Sadly, I have to admit I focus on how much more water has to be poured into that glass before it is full rather than how much it already contains. And sadly, in the process, I suspect I miss out on much of the joy and encouragement God has for me in that moment.

An almost too clear example of this occurred this week when my husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary—our forty-third! We decided we would head to a nearby Club for dinner. As we entered, my husband showed his membership card and was given a special ticket to put in a nearby barrel. Apparently, at 7.00pm, a name was to be drawn from this barrel and some lucky person would be given the chance to win up to two hundred dollars by spinning a small ‘chocolate wheel’.

Well, we didn’t think much about it after that. We rarely enter such competitions and of course don’t tend to win anything as a result! But as we were finishing our main course, we heard someone loudly calling out my husband’s name. Lionel made his way to the wheel, spun it—and won fifty dollars!

What a neat thing to happen on our wedding anniversary! My husband quickly pocketed the fifty dollars, commenting it would almost cover the cost of our meal, including drinks. Needless to say, I was delighted. But then … well, then that ‘glass half empty’ side of my personality kicked in with a vengeance.

‘That’s great you won fifty dollars,’ I told my poor husband, ‘but it would have been even better if we’d won the two hundred dollars—or even the hundred dollars!’

My husband looked at me a little stunned but just smiled. He was still basking in the glory of winning fifty dollars. But then, as we waited for our dessert to arrive, something—or perhaps Someone—prompted me to think about my response. Instead of rejoicing over our totally unexpected fifty dollar windfall and the fact that our meal would now cost almost nothing, I had felt peeved that we had missed out on even more money!

At that point, I felt ashamed of myself and my miserly response—but I almost laughed out loud at myself too. How crazy to spoil the joy of the moment by wishing something even better had happened!

‘Well, I think I showed tonight how much of a “glass half empty” person I am,’ I commented.

My husband agreed—a little too readily for my liking! But I couldn’t argue. After all, it was our wedding anniversary.

Since then, this whole event has caused me to reflect in general on my response to God’s gracious acts of kindness in my life—and everything else I enjoy from God’s hand on a daily basis. How often do I ignore what I have and selfishly wish for more, instead of responding with a heart full of thanks? Surely my thoughts and words need to take the same line as Paul’s do in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

How about you? Are you a ‘glass half empty’ or a ‘glass half full’ person? Do you think one honours God more than the other?

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Last week, as I was cruising along the M4 freeway west of Sydney, a large advertisement on an overpass caught my attention.  It was for a well-known chain of stores and said very little really – just two words in bold letters:

EXPECT CHANGE’

Yes, the ad did make me curious as to what sort of changes I might be likely to find in the particular chain of stores mentioned.  But more than that, it made me think whether I needed to hear such a message for my own life as well.  You see, I’m what you might call the archetypal ‘glass half empty’ person most of the time.  I can see possibilities in an idea or venture, but I’m also very good at seeing all the disasters that might occur as a result and the difficulties that might be encountered along the way!  That might well be a good characteristic to have at times, but it can also make one fearful about the future and reluctant to make any changes.  And it can lead to hopelessness and some degree of depression at least.

Yet life is all about change, isn’t it?  And the Christian life even more so.  After all, Jesus himself said:

I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3)

So our Christian journey begins with radical change and continues on that way, since we are urged several times in Scripture to keep on growing in God.  Peter, for example, tells us to be like newborn babies and to ‘crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation (1 Pet 2:2).

Yet more than that, we belong to a God with whom nothing is impossible – a God who is all-powerful, all-knowing and ever present, a God who hears and answers prayer, a God whose heart for us is just the same as it was towards his people way back in Jeremiah’s time:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jer 29:11)

Our role is to have faith in our amazing God, to expect that things will change and be different as we step out in trust and reliance on him.  Our role is to love God with our whole heart and to believe that his heart is for us, that he knows what is happening to us and is involved in our lives.  Around the same time as seeing the ‘Expect change’ sign on the freeway, I was also very challenged by a simple question Jesus asks in Luke 18:8:

When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?

I want to be full of faith in God.  While I might ‘count the cost’ carefully and weigh things up, I want also to be someone who is hopeful, expectant, up for any changes God might bring.  And I definitely want to be ready when the Son of Man comes.

How about you?

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