I would like to share a few thoughts with you on one word that has to be implemented in our lives on a daily basis if we are going to protect our peace of mind. It is the word priorities.
Jesus Christ gave us our first priority centuries ago when he said, "seek you first the kingdom of God and all other things will be given to you". The Baltimore catechism expanded the words of Christ by telling us our top priority while we are on this earth is to love God and to do God's work so that we can be happy with him in the next world. The religious priorities from the teachings of Christ and the Baltimore Catechism have been repeated for centuries. Somewhere along the line in our daily lives many of us have lost the importance of this one word priority.
If you read Newsweek magazine, there is a very telling article on the subject of teenage depression, how it really is a national epidemic and it is causing havoc to many of the teenagers who don't know what has overpowered them. If you look at the terrible statistics of excessive drinking among the elderly that too is reaching close to epidemic proportions. All of us have to realize that the word priority has to become a reality in our every day way of living if we want to maintain our peace of mind. No normal person can go throughout life on a normal basis hearing nothing but depressing news and not be impacted by it. In the morning we hear how difficult it is to get a job. In the morning we hear about whether we are going to have resolutions from the UN or not. In the morning we hear about whether we are going to Iraq and have a war or not. In the afternoon we are struggling with the tensions of our daily life with our jobs and families. In the afternoon we are worried about whether our teenagers are going to be part of another Columbine adventure. In the evening we are worried about what is happening to our marriage, our family life where divorces are on the increase and where marriages of toleration are growing in leaps and bounds. Abraham Lincoln once coined a wonderful sentence that applies to every one of us that says you are as happy as you make up your mind to be. That means, you personally, not me, not your husband, not your wife, not your children, you personally are responsible for your own happiness and your own peace of mind.
I would like to give a few suggestions as to how we can retain our peace of mind amidst all the bad news and bad events that we hear about constantly.
The first quality that should be kept in mind concerning priority number 1 is our relationship with God. Remember, this is the God who made the planets, the stars and the moon and who has kept them functioning and operative for hundreds of centuries. This is the same God who is far more interested in you than even the planets he made because you are made to his image. This is the same God who allowed his son to suffer and die on the cross just for you. If you are going to retain peace of mind, you have to be anchored to God and grafted to that same Christ so that no matter what storms may happen in your life, no matter what hurricane events you might experience in your life, as long as you are anchored to God and grafted to Christ, God will never abandon you, nor will Christ ever forsake you. Christ, himself, has told us over and over, no matter what storms, no matter what difficulties you experience I will never leave you orphans.
The next priority concerns the people and friends you have in your life. If you read the gospels of Jesus Christ quite closely you might recall that one time he said many are called, but few are chosen. What he was teaching us in this sentence was that there will be many people you meet in life, but few will ever be your total and close friends. Henry Adams, in his beautiful work on friendship poem wrote, to have one friend in life is much, two are rare and three are hardly possible. Today, outside our own families, there is a tremendous need of solid friendships to help you through the battles of life. A friendship is one who is an ally when an alliance is needed. A friend is one with whom all your faults are safe. A friend is one, who when you have done him a favor, has no feeling of indebtedness that he has to repay you back. But in time, that same friend will be one of your greatest strengths, one of your greatest fortresses, one of your greatest helps in life.
Another quality we have to keep in mind concerning priorities is that Jesus Christ has told us to love one another. I want you to understand this quite carefully. There is a difference between ordinary love and extraordinary love. Extraordinary love is that which is poured forth first on your families and your few close intimate friends. Extraordinary love cannot be given to too many people because most of us do not have that much extraordinary love to give. You have to save it for your families and your friends. Concerning ordinary love, as many people as possible should receive your ordinary charity, your ordinary compassion, your ordinary kindness.
One of the big mistakes all of us make is that we never differentiate between ordinary love and extraordinary love. Because we don't we become more emotionally depleted and oftentimes more emotionally frustrated and we wonder why. One of the explanations is that a true extraordinary love is naturally first to God and then to your family and friends.
The third priority that we must constantly remind ourselves of is the priority of loving ourselves without being conceited or obnoxious to deal with. God has given you particular talents that he has given to no other person. You should love those talents and love the God who gave you those talents. You should be able to look in a mirror every day and thank God for your personality, your temperament and your character, because those are what you live with and those are the qualities that you bring into any relationship.
When you think of the short time we have on this earth, you have to, in loving yourself, reflect on the fact that God has given you talents to perform, a mission that no one on this earth will do. You are to better this world by the use of these talents. You are to better the lives of others by the use of these talents and in so doing you make your sense of self esteem, self worth, more appealing in the sight of God because of the use of your talents.
So many of us today want simplistic answers to the complicated problems of life. They are not going to be forthcoming. What we can do in the interim is to perfect our own peace of mind and in doing so we make our lives richer and we also help the lives of those with whom we live and work. Many centuries ago, Jesus Christ said "my peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you". That quality of peace, that quality of sanity, is going to be determined by your relationship with God, your relationship with your family and friends and your relationship with yourself. This means your priorities have to be in order and when they are, your life is happier and you can help the lives of others be happier.
One friend in a lifetime is much;
two are many;
three are hardly possible.
a certain parallelism of life,
a community of thought,
a rivalry of aim.
- Henry Adams
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