Outcome based choices. What is that? To be honest, I easily get confused with new concepts and this is one introduced to me a couple of years ago. It was in the context of spiritual life and we were challenged to think about our daily decisions in relation to what we hoped to achieve in the future. Okay. That makes a lot of sense.
So often, it’s easy to live for today, the moment I am in right now. I consult my feelings and make decisions based on what I want right now in this moment. And then later I am disappointed because the long term outcomes aren’t what I wanted.
A few years ago, I went to Montana to visit my mom. My sisters – at least a few of them – were also there. Together we had a great visit with lots of moments making great memories. But at the end of my visit, Mom shared that she had hoped for more moments of sitting and drinking ice tea together, or having cookies and tea outside under the tree, sharing an evening chat time in the comfort of the living room. But time went so quickly and the opportunities slipped past.
Recently we experienced a tough situation in our church family. I wasn’t closely involved but as I heard about the outcome, I found myself wishing I had been more intentional about being involved. The evidence of God’s grace shone so brillantly in the lives of those gathering around this family and I wanted to be a part. But I had remained uninvolved because getting involved seemed too difficult.
I am challenged every day to think about what I hope to remember after these weeks of isolation. It is so easy to be bogged down by the heart ache of separation from friends, activities and normalcy. Financial loss distracts me, tempting me to pull away from generosity and sharing. Social media, while providing access to great content – like this blog – is also full of discouraging information and conspiracy theories.
What do I hope to be able to learn during this time? It is a question we discussed with our family recently, prompted by our daughters’ visit to buy eggs from the neighbor.
The most important concept from our discussion is this:
Don’t wait for things to get better to be joyful!
Wow! Talk about hitting the nail on the head. It’s so easy to think: I will be joyful when… or I will be positive when… or I will be happy when… this is all over!
Don’t wait for the situation to improve or for the isolation to end to find joy. Look for it as for a hidden treasure. Seek it with all your heart! Scripture says that joy is found in the presence of the Lord. It is the deep well of contentment and strength found in Him alone!
A few other concepts we agreed we wanted to learn…
Sustainability, Generosity and Simplicity
These terms are going to mean something different for everyone. Perhaps sustainability means a person plants a garden, raises chickens, or buys a goat. I suppose it depends on your living environment. It might mean supporting a local farmer’s market and learning to preserve food. Maybe it means learning a new skill like bread making or cooking meals at home. Possibly it just means living within parameters that are sustainable in a time of isolation. Whatever it might mean to you, it was interesting to hear our daughters explore what it means for them.
Generosity seems quite plain – sharing what I have with those who don’t have. It could be time, talents, resources, finances, food or toilet paper. 🙂 More than anything, it is having an outward focus on the needs around me and responding in whatever way I can to alleviate suffering for another human being.
Simplicity is interesting. We all agreed we can live with less than what we thought. Entertaining is about making connections not the food we serve. Daily meals can be simpler and more satisfying. Removing clutter, learning to enjoy empty spaces is all a part of embracing simplicity.
But the question we really asked ourselves is this: what do we want to say when this period of isolation is over? Do we want to grin and bear it, clenching our teeth and fists until we can go out again? I don’t know about you, but that isn’t what I want. I want to have an Isaiah 40 experience! Read this:
He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.Isaiah 40:29-31
What about you? Do you want to soar with me?
Until next time…
May the Lord bless you and protect you.
May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.Numbers 6:24-26