I’ll be happy when ….


(“Isolation” short video)

Unhappiness is a condition that affects many Americans at one point or another, and isolation often a byproduct.

The short film entitled “Isolation”  (click image link above), cleverly produced, directed and acted by Joe Narciso as part of a sermon series created by Renaissance Church in Summit, New Jersey served as the segue to the message “9 Habits of the Chronically Unhappy and the Biblical Steps Towards Joy”.  You can listen to the podcast message by clicking RenChurch link (then find topic “Habit 3: Isolation”, dated 01.22.17). In this segue video to the message,  Joe portrays a chronically unhappy person, who isolated from the world, sits home on his sofa sulking and watching re-runs of “The Golden Girls” on TV.   I don’t know what Joe’s obsession was, but if you are telling yourself “I’ll be happy only when …..”, then you will never be happy.

Joe, however, would eventually shed his protective shield that kept everyone at a distance, having learned that prayer works, and there is strength in being around others. 

Oh, sure, I also have been dealt circumstances in life that I’ve obsessed about. I have had my share of unhappiness, the doldrums, feeling sorry for myself, or wishing I were someone else, or concentrating on what’s wrong in life versus what’s right, or considering my future with worry or fear.  And I also had felt the isolation of withdrawing into myself, of not seeking others when I needed to be with people.

So, how do we get out of this endless cycle of negativity and isolation?  Because of the power of the unconscious mind, I find it difficult to overcome my feelings and emotions sometimes. “It takes a lot more than just positive thinking to get out of it.  Because as soon as you forget to be conscious, the unconscious is back in charge again.  Sound familiar”?[1]

Whatever your situation, whatever your unhappiness, whatever your reason for isolation, whatever your dissatisfaction with life, whether it be self-esteem, your job, your spouse, etc., rather than begrudge these things, first choose to look in the mirror and focus on “whatever is right, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is fair, whatever is pure, whatever is acceptable, whatever is commendable, if there is anything of excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—keep thinking about these things.” (Philippians 4:8, ISV).  The Bible teaches that we are changed by the things we dwell on. Believers in Christ who behold in the mirror, or who “contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NIV).

Lastly, we must make a conscious effort to seek the fellowship of others, for this is God’s good and right design, and for your effort he says, He will bestow his blessing on you, and we will thrive again.  Hebrews 10:25 says “Let us not neglect meeting together, as some have made a habit, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” 

RELATED ARTICLE: “For As He Thinks Within Himself, So He Is

                                                                 

Copyright 2017 by Bill Hutzel

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FOOTNOTE: [1] http://www.lifetrainings.com/Your-unconscious-mind-is-running-you-life.html, It’s now a proven fact – Your unconscious mind is running your life!

My Hard Unhearing Heart

Those that will not wait for God’s counsel shall justly be given up to their own hearts’ lusts, to walk in their own counsel ….. And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul (Psalm 106:13, 15).

Can you think of a time in your life when God has allowed you to walk into a storm because of your hard unhearing heart? Oh, the stress, the worry, the turbulence, and maybe even despair.

In 2001, the small company of 50 employees whom I worked for was acquired by the 5th largest corporation in the world. I was one of 12 people invited to move with my company. I was pleased that I was asked to be one of a chosen few, although I knew in my heart that it was the wrong decision to accept their offer of employment. Who was controlling my thinking? Who was directing my life? Was God ruling it or was I?

Had I lost sight of God because of my insecurity, fears, and worries about finding another job or was the promise of a significant pay increase my reason for not seeking God’s direction?  Probably a little of both; and so I reasoned that I could balance work and family and I accepted. Had I listened to God before making my decision to accept the offer; I might have spared myself months of distress. It would be 7-months later that my hard unhearing heart would be forced to listen.

Instead of a 40-minute commute to work, my 5:45 am commute was now two to three hours each way by car. On my trip to work, I sometimes found it necessary to pull over and close my eyes for 5-minutes so as not to nod at the wheel. The 20-ounce coffee usually helped, but a pit stop would always be pressing half way to my destination. This got old very fast.

By 5 o’clock I would need to be on the road again if I was to get home in time to relieve my daughter’s Nanny of her duties. Leaving on time was not frowned upon by the company, as long as I got my assignments done on time. However, it became too often that I would inquire when a project was due, the reply would be “I needed it yesterday.”  Unfortunately, yesterday was not the answer I wanted to hear. This too got old rather quickly.

I was overworked; I became depressed, did not sleep well, I was sick more than usual, and my marriage was strained. There was no peace in the middle of my pain. I dreaded going to work. Some days it was necessary for me to get away from my desk and stretch out in a recliner, draw the curtains closed and take a 20-minute snooze in what were called “nap rooms.”  For a growing number of companies across the country, sleeping on the job was encouraged as a way to increase productivity and ease stress.

I used to work willingly and without complaining, donating my off-time nights, weekends, and sometimes vacations, to pursue the company’s best interests and my own. However, there was one day when I cracked.

On a Monday morning in November, my director called me into her office.  “Please sit down Bill.” Now mind you, Gertrude was German. Germans are known for being very straightforward and goal-oriented. They also love rules, organization, and structure.  And, one more thing, they are punctual.  So, being too early (impatient) rather than on time is considered a virtue to them.

“Bill, we have three projects due this Friday that I would like you to complete,” she said.  I had now been with the company several months and had become apathetic and indifferent towards my job.  I was, as you say, burned out.  “That’s nice Gertrude,” I said.  “Pick one.”  I could see the surprised look on Gertrude’s face. “No, Bill, you misunderstand.  You have three projects due” she said.  “No, you misunderstood, Gertrude. Pick one” I replied.  I got up, left the room and closed her door.

Whatever got into me to be so bold?  Later that day, the Vice President of my past company that was acquired saw me passing his office and asked me to come in. “Bill, please shut the door.” “What’s up, Chester?” I asked.  “Watch your back,” he said.  “What do you mean?” I replied, playing dumb as if I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. “I think you know,” he said, “just watch your back. You’ve ruffled some people’s feathers here at the company.”

I asked Chester if he thought there might be a layoff shortly, with severance pay, and he nodded his head affirmatively.  I asked him “do you think you can put in a good word for me to get me laid off?” knowing full well that he did not have to intercede on my behalf, not one iota of a bit. I was surprised when he replied “Yeah, me too.”

I knew my days were numbered at the company now.  In December, there was a twenty percent layoff, and I would count as one of them. Chester was also let go. For the next 1 ½ years I became a “stay at home mom” taking care of my daughter. I was glad for the time off and was not “bad off” financially especially with the severance package the company gave me. For me, having been laid off was a blessing in disguise, although I had to learn the hard way because I followed my counsel rather than God’s counsel.

God’s counsel

  1. Consider your actions before you do them, and see that they agree with God’s plan for you, and then you can expect God’s blessing and success in them (Proverbs 4:26).
  1. Pay attention [and be willing to learn] so that you may gain understanding and intelligent discernment. For I give you good doctrine; Do not turn away from my instruction (Proverbs 4:1-2 AMP)
  1. Do not turn away from her (Wisdom) and she will guard and protect you;
    Love her, and she will watch over you (Proverbs 4:6 AMP).
  1. Pay attention to my words and be willing to learn; Open your ears to my sayings. Do not let them escape from your sight; Keep them in the center of your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing and health to all their flesh. Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life (Proverbs 4:20-23 AMP).

Copyright 2017 by Bill Hutzel

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