Let me be real here.–The world as we know it is not getting better. I have observed more division and cruelty than ever before. Despite this, I am learning to sift through the madness and the stress of daily life, and treasure what is really important. However, I also learned that in order to be able to treasure life’s precious moments, we need to avoid these and other life-wasters:
- Bitterness–I admit I still struggle with this at times. However, I found that if I focus too much on how someone hurt me, I have no room to love the people that have not offended me at all. Also, I find that my capacity for having empathy with the person that hurt me is greatly diminished. In order to let go of bitterness, I would try to pray good things for the person that offended me and, if the person who hurt me is still actively in my life, to do something good for them out of the kindness of my heart, even if I did not feel like doing that good deed at the time. This will, in the long run, soften your offender’s heart towards you, and also soften your heart towards him or her.
- Drama–Drama is a life waster because it creates unnecessary strife and stress in interpersonal relationships. Drama, especially coupled with gossip, does not allow one to see the unadulterated truth about a person or people. Only authenticity and love will do that. Drama only creates tension and temporary relief from boredom. I do not like to hear about or participate in drama because I never get a completely accurate view of a person or situation. Also, being involved in drama hinders me from really making a positive difference in others’ lives without hypocrisy and ulterior motives.
- Greed–Greed, of all forms, but particularly of money and material things, greatly wastes your life. Greed for money can drive a person to work long hours at a job that one does not enjoy in order to enjoy the “finer” things of life. Greed for material things can lead one to never really savor or appreciate what they already have. Also, when one is too greedy, and they lose everything they have been greedy for, they will be in agony of life because they did not think to spend their life on what really matters. One way to avoid being trapped by monetary greed and materialism is to intentionally share some of your wealth, whether it be monetary or material (or both) with others, knowing you cannot take any of it with you when you die. Also, focus on things that will last long after your life is over—like the impact you make on others’ lives and what you did to glorify God.
- Jealousy–Jealousy is a major life waster because it does nothing to improve yourself or others, it only tears down. For instance, in the past I was jealous of my brother because I thought his life was easy–both in his interpersonal relationships and his achievements at school (when he was still in school). When I was jealous of him, I did not think of ways to improve myself in those areas where I envied my brother. Moreover, my attitude of resentment not only drove us apart at the time, but also did not allow me to understand him or learn from him. In order to avoid jealousy, we should seek to appreciate what God has given us and to constantly have a thirst to learn and to improve oneself.
- Worry–Worry is a life waster because of the time spent on anxieties out of one’s control and/or not doing anything productive to remedy them. Growing up, I was a major worrier. I would spend hours in bed thinking about what would happen if I got in trouble for doing x, y, z, my grades on a test in school, or any number of things. Recently (as in the past week!), something from one of my former pastor’s sermons about worry struck me—He emphasized that God is in control. I always knew that, but I didn’t really internalize that fact until then. He explained that because God is in control, even if the bad things that I had worried about do come true, that God would a.) give me the strength that I need to endure the trial and b) make something good out of the trial. A good way to combat worry, he said, was to turn your “what-ifs” into “even ifs.” For example, if I am worried that we may not get picks done on time at work, I could say, “Even if we do not get picks done on time at work, it will be done by the end of the evening crew’s shift.”
When we get rid of the bitterness, drama, greed, jealousy, and worry in our lives, we can live healthier, more joyous and productive lives. Also, we will be able to really treasure what is important in our lives without distraction or hindrance.