Monthly Archives: April 2013

How Surroundings Affect our Attitudes

Both Mary Helen and I try to walk every day for exercise. I use a chain saw to Mini-daffodilsclear dead trees from our property. But both of us have found our activities severely limited due to arthritic knees and, in my case, a right shoulder problem that seems untreatable. To be candid, frustration and discouragement cloud the horizon. Our to-do-lists remain long.

One glance outside, however, lightens the mood. The grass is greening. The yellow faces of the daffodils smile at the sun. Everything is on tiptoe, ready to burst into bloom. Tulips and hyacinth. Maple, beech, ash and aspen. What seemed to be bare patches of dirt a week ago, now boast tiny tendrils of perennials I’d forgotten—delphinium, aster, foxglove, coneflower, fiesta flower, and hosta.

How can one be gloomy in the spring? It’s really quite amazing what a profound Iris sprearseffect our surroundings have on our moods. Looking back, I can understand why many suffer from seasonal affective disorder during the winter. Not only is daylight reduced but the fields and forests seem drab and dead. What must it be like to live in a prison surrounded by concrete with no view of lawns or woods? And I often wonder how people endure living in ramshackle slums or even in concrete and glass high-rise buildings.

Surely, humans created to live in the Garden of Eden and destined, through faith in Christ, to end Trilliums prepare to flower?????????????????????????????up in a garden in paradise, need gardens and parks to feel at home in this world. Every city development needs adequate and attractive parkland. I seriously wonder whether prisoners would be more likely rehabilitated if they had more exposure to the gentle influence of grass and flowers.

Our daughter, Debbie, had struggled for months with the debilitating effects of a concussion. During this time she prayed for the Lord to lift her spirits in some way. He sent her several pairs of cardinals. Intrigued at their gorgeous red plumage, she began to put out bird seed attracting other birds. She, who had Fernsnever been a bird watcher, felt herself uplifted.

Not all have the opportunity to choose their surroundings. As many of God’s imprisoned and tortured saints have testified, God Himself can draw near in the ugliest of environments. “Lo I am with you always.” “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, thou art with me.” The unalloyed presence of God is enough.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd yet God created us with five senses so we could experience a sensual world. He created a plethora of flowers and butterflies, birds and fish, sea-shells and pebbles, rainbows and cloud formations to be enjoyed. Embracing the varied beauty of our world enables us to rise above our immediate pains and problems to soar in our spirits on wings of hope.

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THE WAITING SEASON-Acquiring patience in unsettled weather

Some months should be accepted as months dedicated to acquiring patience. In northern climes, during March and April we wait—often impatiently. We wait for winter to leave and for the temperature to climb. The sun shines brightly for a few days, then snow flurries come again, as they have today. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur crocuses and snowdrops valiantly try to bloom. This year has tried the patience of most of us.

November and part of December are waiting months too. Waiting for winter, the real winter with snow. Waiting. Whether in the early spring or late fall we are often found waiting for perfect weather. Fortunately, we have the Easter holidays to distract us in the spring and Christmas to look forward to in the late fall. Otherwise, there’s not much to do outside in these shoulder seasons.

However, if we approach these prolonged in-between seasons with the right kind of attitude, we may come out of them with a healthy dose of patience! And without patience and perseverance we’ll spend much of our lives being frustrated. Consider how much we need these qualities: waiting for a bus, driving through traffic, bringing up children, getting through school, finding a job, developing a strong marriage, writing a book, painting a picture, or playing monopoly. We’ll never succeed in completing tedious and detail-oriented tasks without buckets of the stuff. Nor will we live a meaningful life.

No wonder the biblical writers say a lot about this character quality. In the parable of the sower and the soils, “the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop”(Luke 8:15).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJesus urges believers during the chaos coming near the end of the age; “in patience possess your souls” (Luke 21:19, KJV). This implies that without patience our souls are like unmanageable animals—wild mustangs who know nothing of saddle and bridle.

Both Romans 5 and James 1 affirm that, under the hand of God, suffering and tribulation help us develop the perseverance and patience we need to live victorious and fruitful lives. (See Rom 5:1-5; James 1:2-5). The writer of Hebrews urges us to “run with patience the race that is set before us”(Heb. 12:1).

The Scriptures were written “so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope”(Rom. 15:4). It is interesting to note here that the wisdom and encouragement we acquire from the Scriptures enables us to endure unpleasant circumstances productively. The Scriptures give us the big picture, the long view. Without them we might find both the present and the future dark and foreboding.

Sitting still and lamenting our situation—or the weather—will not create the Narcissuspatience we need to press ahead with life. “We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.”(Heb. 6:12). An active lifestyle helps to banish discouragement and depression.

I’ve gone far afield from talking about the uncertainty of April weather. And yet, I contend that there seems to be a relationship between cheerfully accepting whatever weather comes our way, and developing the patience and hope we need to live satisfying and productive lives.