True Positive: Day 16 – Helping Others

madi-robson-113926

Feeling blue? Consider doing something kind for someone else. It may be volunteering at a hospital or a dog shelter or at a local school. You could write a letter to someone who needs encouragement or cook a meal for someone who could use some help or even bring groceries to someone who can’t get out right now. When we reach out to help others, thinking of their needs, it gets our mind off of our own stuff and actually gives us a feeling of joy. Although our motivation for doing things for others shouldn’t be to please ourselves, it is a natural consequence and an added blessing.

A team of sociologist tracked a group of 2000 people over a 5-year period and discovered that those who described themselves as “very happy” also volunteered at least 5.8 hours per month.  Of course, there could be a number of reasons for this, but researchers believe that showing compassion gives people a neurochemical sense of reward as an emotional boost. For more benefits to helping others click here. Jesus spoke about showing kindness and love even to our enemies. He said, “Give and it will be given back to you, a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, it will be poured into your lap.”

Take one step today to reach out in kindness to another person.

Photo by Madi Robson on Unsplash

Chasing Happiness

patti-black-38177

Spring in Dallas just doesn’t make sense to me.  On any given day we may have a freeze warning at nightfall and 80 degree temperatures by the very next afternoon.  It’s crazy! They say if you don’t like the weather in Texas, just stay around for a couple of hours and it’ll change.

One March morning several years ago,  I stepped outside to get the newspaper and was hit with blizzard-like conditions. Well it may not have been that extreme, but it was one of those take-your-breath-away cold fronts that felt like a blizzard to this thin-blooded Southern girl.  By mid-afternoon of that very same day I was sitting out in the garden reading and enjoying some good ole Texas sunshine.

Personally, I love to be outside and love to read, so when I can find the time to enjoy both it is a happy afternoon. On this particular spring day, my personal reading agenda was the book of Philippians in the New Testament of the Bible.  Written by the apostle Paul while he was a prisoner in Rome, one could easily assume Philippians would be a real downer of a book.  On the contrary it is quite a delightful and uplifting read. In fact, the theme of joy sort of oozes through the pages from this unlikely author.

As I relaxed and tried to picture how Paul could possibly write such a positive message from a prison cell, I glanced up to see a white butterfly dancing around our garden. It was amusing to watch this fluttering creature touch a flower here, then off again to another flower there, then here, then there, then back to where it started again. It never stayed in one place for more than a few seconds as if it were pursuing something it would never find. Just as quickly as it appeared in my garden, it was off to the next field of flowers.

Observing the illusive dance of the white butterfly made me think about how illusive life’s pleasures can be. Just like this flitting creature, I realized how easy it is for me to flit, flutter and fly from one activity or person to another trying to find sweet nectar to satisfy my longings for significance and joy. I’m guessing you have felt those same feelings a time or two as well. The pursuit of happiness is common to us all.  The question is where does the chase stop, or does it? Are we fooling ourselves into thinking that there is something out there that will enrich our being and fill the hunger of our souls?

The irony of my butterfly encounter on the Spring day in Dallas, was that I was sitting there reading a book which highlights enduring qualities which transcend shifting circumstances and fleeting feelings. Paul (yes, from his prison cell) described a resilient joy, a consistent contentment and a peace which passes all understanding in his letter to the Philippians. Unlike the flitting butterfly, Paul taught the early Christians how to experience a true satisfaction of the soul.

So we must ask ourselves, “Does God call us to pursue happiness or to pursue Him and His purposes in our life?” I am convinced that our pursuit of Him leads us to experience a heart full of joy and true contentment as we live out His purposes in our lives. I want to encourage you to read the book of Philippians this week and consider what God teaches you about Himself.

“To seek God is to desire happiness; to find him is that happiness.”

Augustine

download

This is an excerpt from A Woman’s Passionate Pursuit of God. The DVD is on sale this month for $5. Click Here for more information.