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One Question When You Can't Change Things

faith Nov 19, 2020

How long is your list of things you would like to change but can’t?

Your list may include:

  • Other people’s behavior or attitudes
  • Daily Chores that are on repeat
  • Your state’s Covid mandates
  • Winter’s bitter cold
  • Lost opportunities

Now, you can stay in your sulky disposition or you can ask yourself the one question that will shift your internal conversation and frustration to empowerment.

One Great Question to Ask When You Can't Change Something

What can help me adjust to this?

This one question will help you take control over what you can – you, and only you.

So what do I really have control over in my life?

You need to be reminded that not everything that happens in your life is within your control. The harsh realization is that you have no power over someone else, certain environments, forces of nature, or the past.

You may have some influence over the people you live or work with, but at the end of the day you really only have control over your choices, attitudes, perspective, and thinking.

If I Could Ask Paul. . .

I think one of the greatest examples in the Bible for taking control over personal choices, attitudes, perspective, and thoughts is the apostle Paul.

He wrote 4 letters from prison (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon) that are filled with Godly insight and instruction for how we can adjust to difficult and frustrating people, places, and things.

Go ahead. This is your opportunity to ask Paul.

What can help me adjust to this?

Well dear, Paul would respond, I’ve already got this written down for you.

1. Switch your complaining to thanks and prayer.

I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly.

Ephesians 1:16 NLT

Now I know Paul was thrilled with the people in Ephesus and their strong faith, but I bet if you complained to him about the irritating people in your life, he would tell you to switch your complaining to thanks and prayer.

(BTW, Paul repeats this theme of thanks and prayer in everyone of the Prison Epistles.)

2. Change your own attitude before you expect someone else to.

Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.

Ephesians 4:23 NLT

There is always a cooperation between the Holy Spirit’s work in your life and your obedience. You invite the Spirit to renew your attitude, but then as he works in your life you respond by following his leadership.

3. Let go of anger and instead be kind.

But don’t let the passion of your emotions lead you to sin! Don’t let anger control you or be fuel for revenge, not for even a day. Don’t give the slanderous accuser, the Devil, an opportunity to manipulate you! Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Ephesians 4:26-27, 32 NLT

Picture Paul sitting on the floor of a filthy, rat-infested prison cell. They have given him the writing utensils of the day and as he formulates his words, they come out not in anger, but with encouragement and instruction to be kind.

How about you?

Stop building your arsenal.

Are you daily releasing anger, or are you rehearsing it every evening before you go to bed; trying to mentally collect proof in your defense and build up your arsenal for a new offense in the morning?

4. Stop the negative thoughts and instead focus on healthy thinking.

So, keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always.

Philippians 4:8 TPT

It all starts in your thoughts!

I love (and believe) this saying:

Watch your thoughts, they become words. Watch your words, they become actions. Watch your actions, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.

That is the power of your thinking patterns. Your destiny is eventually determined by either rogue, unhealthy thoughts, or thinking that is true, noble, right, pure, admirable, and excellent.

5. Learn how to be content in every situation.

I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:11-13 NLT

We are prone to complaining and being dissatisfied.

Paul, in contrast, is trained in the secret of overcoming all things, as he is infused with the power of God in every situation. (TPT)

6. Change your conversation to sound like heaven.

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.

Colossians 3:1-2

I like to picture these verses with sitting at a heavenly table or an earthy table. I am invited through my new life in Christ to sit at the heavenly table where the conversation is filled with truth, joy, fulfillment, and goodness. I can choose to stay in those conversations or sit instead at the earthly table where the focus is competition, comparison, insecurity, self-consciousness, and fear.

7. Find ways to be generous.

And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ.

Philemon 6 NLT

You will be able to adjust to unfavorably situations if you switch into the generosity mode. Be generous with your care and concern. Be generous with thoughtful words. Be generous by working hard without taking the credit. Be generous in complimenting others. Be generous in every way possible.

Friends - I just want to remind you that God’s power is available in your weakness (and frustration at not being able to change things). Receive this power and you will be strong and able to handle every situation with joy, peace, and contentment.

I pray that you will continually experience the immeasurable greatness of God’s power made available to you through faith. Then your lives will be an advertisement of this immense power as it works through you!

Ephesians 1:19 TPT

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