Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tuesday's Top Ten Plus Ten [Drama Free Life]

The first 25 or so years of my life was drama-filled. To my everlasting shame I sent nasty emails, posted status updates on social media that make me shiver, overreacted on all my emotions, gossiped, cast judgement, said things I never ever ever ever should have said, and made everything a huge production. I still struggle with my emotions, selfishness, and that whole self-control piece, but I do believe, thanks to a few God-embedded-changes over the last few years of my life, that I have a drama-free existence. That doesn't mean problems or issues don't happen, it simply means (thanks to these 10 tips I'm about to share with you) that when faced with these tribulations I'm not faced with an overload of emotional, irrational responses from others or myself.

1. Avoid gossip. If I begin to hear whispering, I immediately begin praying that God direct my Words and help me deal with the situation. I either walk away, change the subject or gently correct. Gossiping is sooooooo not worth it for so many reasons: if the person who's doing the talking is willing to talk about so-and-so I know I cannot trust that individual to not talk about me once I leave the room. I have zero trust for an individual who gossips. 2. I do not like the he-said-she-said game. Words are easily jumbled and news too easily mixed up. 3. Sometimes I simply don't need (or want) to know the dirty details of someone else's life. Plus, I completely agree with this simple statement:
Just to add to the reasons why you should avoid this vicious activity, here's a few Biblical truths:
"Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent. Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered." 11:12-13, 
"A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends." 16:28 
"Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler." Proverbs 20:19

2. Think before speaking. I saw this acronym on Pinterest and fell in love with it. It's something I'll hang up in my classroom the day I return to teaching because this one simple act can save on A LOT of drama:
The Bible obviously has much to say about this as well...
"When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent." Proverbs 10:19 
"Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin." Proverbs 13:3 
"Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent." Proverbs 17:27-28 
"Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble." Proverbs 21:23 
"Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him." Proverbs 29:20

3. Think of others before you think of yourself. Selflessness goes a long way. Let go of your pride, your ME-ME-ME attitude, put yourself in someone else's shoes and I promise it'll go a long way in having a drama-free existence. I realize that is the exact opposite of what the world is telling you, but it's what God teaches in His Word. One such example in Philippians 2:3 speaks volumes to this truth,
"Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

4. Let go of your critical spirit. This particular issue was brought up at church two Sunday's ago and I was immediately convicted. What does it mean to have a critical spirit? Well, judgmental thoughts are a good place to start. We also have a tendency to immediately jump to conclusions. Both of which stir hatred and strife in our heart. First and foremost take the plank from your own eye (Matthew 7) and then, as Jesus so clearly states, "... you will see clearly how to take the speck out of your brothers eye." It's so easy to see someone else's faults without recognizing your own, so be careful because the same standards by which you judge are the standards by which you yourself will be judged. Not one person on the face of the planet is perfect, not even you. So as #3 states, let go of your selfishness, put yourself in someone else's shoes, and most of all let go of your pride,
"When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom." Proverbs 11:2 
"Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." Proverbs 16:18 

By the way, all of these are easier said than done. I'm only to #4 and I can tell you not one of these tips are easy for me.

5. Surround yourself with people who share these values. For example, if you surround yourself with people who gossip, you'll find yourself falling prey to that very activity. If all the people in your life are pessimists you're making it ten times harder to be an optimist. If your BFF is an angry individual, most likely, you will be too. And yes, I'll share some biblical truth to go along with this one as well,
"Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge." Proverbs 14:7 
"Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler." Proverbs 20:19 
"Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways." Proverbs 22:24-25

6. Don't put yourself in compromising situations. If the drama's at the bar - don't go or avoid the people who cause it (#5). If the drama starts when you have one too many drinks, put away the drink and begin sipping water. If the drama starts when you insert your opinion, keep your mouth shut. If a certain group of friends are guilty of gossiping every time you hang out with them, avoid hanging out with them. That sounds harsh, but it needs to be a reality, because they are not trustworthy. I compare a group that gossips to a pack of wolves. Once one wolf leaves the pack they immediately pounce, and I promise you that the times you haven't been there, you've been a topic of conversation. I wouldn't exactly call that a group of friends, hence my comparison. It may be lonely for a bit, but if you begin to take the advice stated in #5 you'll find others who share your values and your life will be less dramatic as a result.

7. Mind your own beeswax. I am a fixer. So this one is especially hard for me. I love solving issues. However, I can promise you this: every time I insert my opinion or become involved in a situation not my own, I only add to the drama. This one also goes hand in hand with #1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. If the person didn't come directly to you for help, I'd stay out of "it." If you didn't hear "it" directly from the horses mouth, don't repeat "it" (and even if you did, that doesn't mean "it" needs to be repeated). Yes, of course, there's a Proverb for this too,
"Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears." Proverbs 26:17

8. Wake up every morning with the gospel on your mind. If you wake up praising Jesus Christ for the work He accomplished on the cross you immediately shift your focus from me to HIM. You find yourself set free from the very sins you committed yesterday; knowing that Christ forgave you offers a freedom from the sin of gossip (#1), over-talking (#2), selfishness (#3), a critical spirit (#4), meddling (#6) and worry (#10). Since you are no longer held captive by sin you are free to enjoy God through your day - praise Him, minister to others, pray &etc. Doing this leaves no room for #1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 10. You also begin your day with an understanding that if He saved you for all your sins, who are you to hold someone else's faults against them? (In other words, stop playing God.) Forgive, pray for them, and show love towards them. I love how Milton Vincent states this fact in his book A Gospel Primer, "... I am always willing to show love to others when I am freshly mindful of the love that God has shown me." (p. 24)

When you wake up with the mentality that Jesus worked a great miracle in your life through His death, burial, and resurrection you have a wonderful perspective in trials and tribulations. His gift of salvation saved you from hell and as you bask in this reality every thing else in life gains a different perspective. Nothing, absolutely nothing, compares to that and you can now appreciate all that God is doing in your life to help you grow in Him. Even if it means dealing with trials. You can actually find yourself thankful for them as they work wonders in your life and can now ask yourself, How is God using this to draw me closer to Him?

9. Find a discipleship relationship. There's nothing more powerful, besides the very Word of God, than a relationship centered around Christ and His Word as you journey this life together. Pick a woman who displays all the qualities of a Titus 2 Woman and ask her to teach you. It's the process God designed to draw us closer to Himself. It's been a miraculous, life-changing journey for me. There's nothing like the trust, growth and accountability that comes with this relationship. Because of that accountability and growth you'll find yourself wanting nothing to do with things like gossip (#1), over-talking (#2), selfishness (#3), a critical spirit (#4), meddling (#6) and worry (#10 and wanting more of the benefits of the Gospel, learning His Word, praising Jesus for all He is and has accomplished, and loving others (whether or not they deserve it) as a result.

10. Pray continually. Oh man, this was a hard habit to get myself into. I have been working on it since October of 2013 (read about it here) when certain events occurred that forced me to dive head first into this process of praying first and throughout my day. Ever since then I force myself to pray about it continually before picking up my phone. I cannot begin to tell you what a difference it makes! Before I know it, God has resolved the issue before I even need to say or do anything. By praying I am relying on His sovereign hand and allowing Him to do His work in myself and others. It's pretty miraculous what prayer does for drama. Paul called the church of Thessalonians to,
"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:16 
Each of those command a continual state of dependance on God. By depending on Him, drama flies out the window.

Plus One for Good Measure. (I saved the best for last.)
Trust God. He is sovereign. He is faithful. He is trustworthy. He is the Creator of life and therefore knows and understands each individual and their heart.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6 
Rely on the truths stated in His Word and pray continually. Don't worry about it. He's got whatever "it" is under complete control.

I have been completely and utterly blessed with a beautiful life without a lot of drama for the last few years.  I attribute that to our drama-free church family and the time we spend together studying God's Word. Once the focus shifts from ME-ME-ME to CHRIST so much changes, including the theatrics. That doesn't mean I don't have bouts of issues here and there, but when I apply these tips I'm astounded at how much easier life is. These tips, however, are difficult to apply at times when I'm tempted to gossip and meddle &etc. etc. However, if I give in to that sin, I find myself feeling pretty rotten afterwards and needing to apologize for my actions. Thankfully, God has worked wonders on my heart and has blessed me with more self-control than I had three years ago (or a month ago for that matter).

I encourage you to check out Melany's list because a 16 year old's life without drama is pretty rare. It speaks volumes of her maturity level, but also of her relationship with Christ. Read it. You won't be disappointed.
For added good measure, here are a few tips (written last week) to avoid drama on Facebook.

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