Your gender, race, ethnicity, age, geographical location, socio-economic status, education, marital status, etc. are examples of life conditions. Some of these are fixed, which means they are very hard to change. Others are in flux, which means they are very open to change, often by you.
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” We can apply this to our life conditions. The life conditions of others may seem to be “greener.” The other conditions looks better, brighter, and more appealing. It looks that way until we get there.
I talked to one man who had such a bad marriage that whenever he thought about being divorced and single he said it made him smile! That is how negatively he experienced marriage and how positively he thought about divorce. He eventually was divorced, but found out divorce (and life as a middle-aged single man) was not all he thought it would be.
I talked to a friend who had moved out of state (to a much better state, a much better job, a much better etc.). Two years later he moved back to the state he had left. It turned out the state, the job, the opportunities, and the life he thought were greener over there, were pretty much the same as they had been in his original location.
Your experience of flourishing and the resulting happiness of life will involve you being able to think wisely and prayerfully about your life conditions.
Here are five ways you can maximize your life conditions:
1. Pray for the serenity to be at peace about those conditions you cannot change.
I am 60 years old. That is simply my life condition. I can’t change that. I can’t be 40 years old. God gives me all that I need to flourish in that life condition.
2. Pray for the courage to change those conditions that can be changed.
There were many things I greatly admired about William Wilberforce (the Christian politician-activist featured in the movie Amazing Grace). Wilberforce looked around England of the late 1700s and saw the terrible life condition of slavery. He and a team of friends prayed for the courage to put an end to this vile condition. Do not settle meekly for the status quo when God wants you to have the courage to change a condition that needs to be changed.
3. Realize the grass is NOT greener on the other side.
Be wise. Don’t be fooled just because you don’t like your current condition. Get multiple inputs from others who can see the condition you are contemplating more clearly. I spent about 2 hours helping a leader work through a very complex (and fascinating) career shift. He asked me to help because he knew he did not have enough objectivity to consider that role in an unbiased way.
4. Appreciate all that is quite green in your current condition.
We take things for granted. We become so accustomed to what we have that we no longer appreciate it. We become a bit tired and bored with our current setting, which pushes us toward giving another condition better marks then it deserves. It also makes us prematurely restless about our current condition. Here is where the Apostle Paul’s great advice about contentment is helpful (Philippians 4:10-13). Pray for peace. Pray for a quiet and settled heart. The more emotionally energized you are, the harder it is to be at a place of quiet. (By the way, by energized I mean disturbed!)
5. Practice gratitude, surrender, and trust at all times.
You should not consider a change in any condition without these qualities anchoring all your thinking and decision making. These qualities put you in the proper frame of mind. “God, not my will, but your will be done.” And if you are to remain in your condition, these qualities will be among the most important needed for you to flourish with happiness.
While there will be many other helpful practices for thinking about and working on your life conditions, these five are a great place to begin.
Grace, love, hope, and peace to you,
Having the ability to empower and resource leaders to bear much fruit that lasts. Being a part of a team of friends and missional servants committed to changing the world.